Language Diversity and the Workforce: The Growing Need for Bilingual Workers in Massachusetts’ Economy

On June 21, New American Economy (NAE) joined with business leaders and education advocates at the Massachusetts State House to call for the creation of a state Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal of Biliteracy, which formally recognizes high school graduates who are proficient in more than one language, has been hailed as an important mechanism to promote foreign language learning and diversify the skillset of the local workforce in an increasingly global economy.

A new NAE research brief shows the growing demand for bilingual talent in some of Massachusetts’s key industries. Analyzing online job posting data acquired by Burning Glass Technologies, the research illuminates the need to attract and promote language diversity in the Massachusetts workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.

“Language Diversity and the Workforce: The Growing Need for Bilingual Workers in Massachusetts’ Economy” finds:

  • Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in Massachusetts more than doubled, increasing from 5,612 in 2010 to 14,561 in 2015. Demand also increased for candidates who speak specific languages, including Chinese (196.9 percent increase), Spanish (126.8 percent increase), and German (69.1 percent increase).
  • In 2015, jobs for bilingual workers represented a significant share of online job postings at a number of Massachusetts’ employers, including more than two thirds of the job openings posted online by Radio Shack (71.2 percent) and CSG Incorporated (70.9 percent); more than one in four jobs posted online by Community Healthlink (37.6 percent), Bank of America (35.0 percent), and H&R Block (25.4 percent); and a portion of online postings at Boston Medical Center (9.3 percent) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (3.9 percent).
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the share of postings for bilingual candidates increased in many of Massachusetts’ key industries, including: Elementary and Secondary Schools; General Medical and Surgical Hospitals; Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services; Business Support Services; Individual and Family Services; Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services; Electronics and Appliance Stores; and Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools. In several of these cases, the share of online job postings doubled, or even quadrupled, between 2010 and 2015.

Read the full report here.

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