Headlines Making a Splash in the Languages Industry in 2016

2016 Highlights

2016 was another busy year in the languages industry. It’s hard to whittle down the list of hot topics to just 5, but here are the ones I believe to be the most important topics of the year – though not necessarily in this order!

Brexit Shock

June saw one of the biggest election upsets in modern times as the United Kingdom voted by a margin of 52% to 48% to leave the European Union.  From the perspective of the Language Services industry, this raises many questions about what the demand will be like.  Fears of legal and regulation changes in the UK making it more difficult to operate and concerns about the state of the economy are likely to make language service professionals who have business anywhere in Europe quite anxious for some years to come, as it has become clear that the process to exit will be lengthy.

Political Earthquake Take 2 – President Trump

November saw more major political drama as the US elected Donald Trump to take the office of President. Nobody knows quite what this means, but in his early days in office, his policies have set a clear tone of focusing on American jobs. For example, when he recently signed executive orders to resurrect the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, it was done on the condition that the pipes would be made in the US.  Music to the ears of many industries, language services firms have some concerns that the demand for foreign trade will decrease the demand for translation as not just fewer goods but fewer people migrate to and from the US. Any big change in political structure will bring uncertainty and this makes planning work difficult, but also places the language industry at an advantage over many other industries, as it relies more heavily than most on independent contractors.

All Things Cybersecurity

The translation industry is as affected as any other by the need to keep its IT systems secure, and to protect the information it holds for its clients.  In many cases, Language Services companies are entrusted with very sensitive such as legal information or proprietary company information.  Many translators work remotely from an office as freelancers which means that they are accessing sensitive client data through remote devices and software that is not controlled by the Language Services Provider.  2016 saw some big corporate names fall victim to hacking such as Talk Talk, Yahoo, and Cisco which has only served to heighten the awareness that “nobody is safe!”

Multilanguage Facilities

Ever more companies are becoming multinational, and this is increasingly meaning not just two or three countries but many. Crossing many continents and multiple language barriers, the interest in how companies can target all their markets effectively is only going to increase.  The range of topics that “multilingual” covers are expanding as rapidly as the companies themselves seem to be. It covers everything from computer software and packages designed to try and automatically accounts for different languages, regional differences and technical requirements to how to email market in multiple countries with one campaign.

Professionalization and Quality Standards

There was an increasing focus on the professionalization of the language services industry, as language services professionals seek to differentiate themselves and gain wider recognition for what they do.  There was wide interest in the arrival of ISO 17100 and how this could be used to demonstrate measurable quality indicators.  However, Slator, the source of Language Industry Intelligence, stated that its most read article in 2016 was their coverage of Germany’s Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDU).  The main revelation of the article was that the median price per word for translators in Germany is €0.15 so perhaps the motivations to improve quality and professionalism aren’t entirely pure!

What were your top headlines from the industry in 2016?  We’d be interested to hear your views.

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