Glen Nordin: Agencies Not Addressing Language Skills Gap


Government officials should be working to address the gap in foreign language skills available in the workforce and community need, an official recently told a Senate subpanel, FierceGovernment IT reports.

Glen Nordin, principal foreign language advisor in the office of the under secretary of defense for principal foreign language, told a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee that federal leaders are not understanding their organizations’ language needs.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, director general of the State Department’s foreign service and director of human resources, told lawmakers it is increasingly difficult to find candidates capable of meeting agency foreign language standards.

She added that the foreign language need has shifted in recent years toward personnel capable of speaking Arabic, Dari, Hindi, Urdi and Chinese, Molly Bernhart Walker wrote for Fierce.

Additional officials noted that its difficult to find candidates who can pass the foreign language test battery at the necessary level to work with agencies, Walker wrote.

Nordin told the subpanel agencies should offer qualified language specialists with a rewarding career path in order to retain them, Walker writes.

Officials indicated the Defense Department is developing such career paths as well as pursuing the notion that a military translator or analyst could serve in intelligence and special operations, according to the report.

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