Saturday, June 30, 2012

Apsen Ideas Festival--Using Language to Kick Start a Jobs Movement

This week I'm excited to share with you what I learn at the Aspen Ideas Festival.  Wherever I go, I welcome opportunities to see how world language and culture is integrated in the very fabric of our society.

In my first session at the festival I had the good fortune of catching Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post’s “Starting a Movement to Kick Start Jobs”.

Arianna shared recent research by LinkedIn that there are 3.7 million jobs here in America that are going unfilled because we don’t have enough people with the right skills to fill the positions.  3.7 Million Jobs?

In New York state we have an 8.5% unemployment rate. Could you image what it would mean to the state, local communities and families to put even a small percentage of these people back to work?

Hearing the statistic about the unfilled jobs made me think about language and wonder how many of these jobs that are unfilled are related to language or lack thereof.

A report by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office said that there is a critical deficit of multilingual employees within government that impacts national security and foreign relations; this sector has 3.1 million employees but less than 8% of them have the ability to speak a second language. 

Locally, there are jobs in healthcare that require multilingual skills to serve a growing diverse population…not to mention, travel and tourism and trade.  These are all 21st century jobs that will need to be eventually filled by students…our future workforce if our country is to be successful.

Back to Arianna Huffington, who was born in Greece and has had considerable success with Huffington Post. Her command of English allowed this.  Would the Huffington Post have the same impact if it were only in Greek?  Media’s ability to transact across borders is priceless in today’s global society. 

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