Meeting Wisconsin's Next-Generation Multilingual Workforce and Community Needs
A WORLD-READY WISCONSIN
Wisconsin’s economy is becoming increasingly global. Intercultural competencies—including language skills—are key to productive business interactions both at home and abroad. Wisconsin business leaders recognize the value of multilingual workforce talent in meeting six strategic goals: expanding exports, accessing new markets, building partner relationships, gaining a competitive advantage, engaging with local communities, and fulfilling basic business functions. However, these business leaders face difficulties in finding and retaining multilingual personnel, as well as developing staff with a global mindset.
Wisconsin’s educational system does not currently prioritize the development of proficiency in languages other than English. Business leaders and educators have identified several areas of acute need, including the lack of early and continuous language-learning opportunities for Wisconsin students, the shortage of qualified instructors, and the insufficient integration of world languages into the core curriculum. If these shortcomings are not addressed, Wisconsin risks falling behind other states that have recognized the importance of language proficiency and are investing in language education at a state and local level.
The Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative aims to ensure that Wisconsin’s future citizens are able to effectively compete in interconnected global markets, engage with diverse local communities, and participate in professional and personal networks that cross linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries. The long-term goals of the initiative are to prepare all Wisconsin students to be workforce- and community-ready with advanced proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English and in doing so, enhance the economic competitiveness and vitality of the State of Wisconsin.