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6 Industry Experts Tell Translators How to Survive and Thrive After Brexit

Did you expect the UK to vote to leave the EU? The Brexit vote rocked the world in June, and the shockwaves will undoubtedly be felt for years to come.

People in all sorts of industries are now trying to make sense of an uncertain future. The translation industry is no exception. In fact, translators and others in the language services industry have reasons to be wary, as so many translation opportunities depend on international business.

It’s always best to be prepared, but how do you prepare when the future is so uncertain? To help, we gathered six experts in translation and international business to discuss how Brexit is likely to impact the industry and what we can do to stay ahead of the game. Here’s what they had to say.

Uncertainty and Opportunities

Our fearless leader Richard Brooks is the CEO of K International.

He sees uncertainty and some potential problems ahead, but also opportunities.

How do you think Brexit will affect the translation industry?

Short Term Effects

If (and I think this is a big if as leaving the EU is an issue for the law makers) we issue article 50 and leave the EU I see there being several short term effects impacting on the UK translation market.

  • Fall in value of the pound, making what we produce cheaper to big markets such as the USA. However our unit cost is already cheaper than the US market, so I wouldn’t expect to see a huge influx of work.
  • Economic slowdown. The debate is for how long. Looks like the Government wants the economy to be kickstarted again by an entrepreuners. When this happened last time (2008) we saw policies from Government to encourage business to retrain staff and invest in plants and machinery. This may be the end of austerity as the Government has opportunity here to develop something big.
  • Unravelling the law. We’ve been part of the EU for over a generation and lots of our laws are intertwined. This generates an enormous amount of work for the legal services industry … A part of this will (by nature) require language assistance. The big issue is who is going to pay for it all (my belief is that it will run into £billions).
  • Uncertainty during the 24 after we begin the process.  Big business hates this and will delay investment until the time period has passed. Fear of slowdown causes a slowdown.

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Demand for Translation Services is Booming

Translation apps and machine translation tools like Google Translate are all the rage, but how is this affecting the translation industry? I’m sure everyone has a war story or two about potential clients who think they can get away with using Google Translate, but even with the availability of “free” translation services, demand for professional translation services is growing by leaps and bounds.

According to the The Dallas Morning News, in the United States alone the number of jobs available for translators has doubled over the past ten years, and is expected to increase by another 46 percent by 2022. Wages are going up, too. Jiri Stejskal, a spokesman for the American Translators Association, said:

“Good translators who specialize in a particular subject and become really good at it can really make six-digit figures annually. The professional translators and interpreters … they are pretty happy right now because the economy is good and the jobs are there.”

Meanwhile, the worldwide value of the language services industry is up to $37.2 billion this year, a 6.2 percent increase from last year. Market research firm Common Sense Advisory predicts that number to climb to $47 billion by 2018.

In March, Inc Magazine chose the translation industry as one of the best industries to start a business in 2014, citing massively increasing demand. More and more companies are choosing to go global, and as they expand into new markets, they need to translate their business materials for both customers and employees alike. As Rick Antezana of Dynamic Language told Inc:

“Tracking all that content and translating it accurately takes so much. There have to be multiple steps in the quality control process so the content doesn’t embarrass the company.”

And what about Google Translate? You might think it would hurt demand, but industry experts say the opposite is true. According to the Dallas Morning News,

Online translation services like Google Translate actually raise demand for human translators and interpreters, experts said. “Even Google doesn’t use Google Translate for their business documents,” [American Translator Lillian] Clementi said.

5 Translation Industry Predictions for 2016

To quote Bob Dylan, times are changing…and the translation industry is changing, too. Every year, the world grows smaller, better connected and more technologically advanced. What will 2016 bring for the translation industry? We’ve dusted off our crystal balls to give you a sneak peak into the future!

Companies Who Take Translation Seriously Will Reap the Rewards

Ready to expand into new markets? If the borders of your home country are starting to feel a little small, there’s never been a better time to conquer the world.  Especially for e-commerce and other web-based businesses, translation represents a tremendous opportunity to get in ahead of the competition.

For example,translation company Smartling recently polled 150 US marketers and found that 48 percent were not marketing outside of the US at all. Even fewer companies were taking advantage of the unique opportunities created by localisation, as 86 percent admitted to simply translating English language content without customising it to the target market.

Meanwhile, according to research from Common Sense Advisory:

When looking across sectors, we found that company size, website popularity, and brand value all show positive correlation to the number of languages found…Yet one out of three websites (37%) visited turned out to be monolingual.

So, companies that are willing to take their foreign language customers seriously and make an effort to craft marketing content for them in their own languages have a tremendous opportunity to get ahead of the competition. Will you let it pass you by? Read more