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Realizing the Economic Advantages of a Multilingual Workforce

Authors: Patrícia Gandára, Sylvia Acevedo
Date Published: June 01, 2016

As markets have transitioned from agricultural to industrial to what is now the information age, there are tremendous opportunities for those who can analyze, collaborate, and communicate with people all over the world while providing services in the local language of the client. These workers can compete for work in their home markets and in markets where their language fluency puts them at an advantage over those with only monolingual skills—like many in the American workforce.
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The transformation of the global economy has enabled countries and businesses to provide American consumers with products and services in English without leaving their home country, thus bypassing the American workforce. The loss of these jobs to bilingual workers outside of the U.S. has made an impact on many industries— from call centers to accounting services, and even medical radiography. Ironically, as a nation of immigrants, the American workforce should be a source of unparalleled linguistic resources. Unlike the multinational bilingual workers who can compete for jobs in their home country and in the United States, Americans who speak only English are left to compete for mostly local jobs. Consequently, many American workers miss out on global business opportunities because they are competing against an increasingly skilled global workforce that is both multilingual and fluent in English. 



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