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2020.06.08

Translation in general

The Impact of Covid19 on the Language Industry


As we described in previous blog articles the corona crisis did not yet have a big impact on the patent translation industry in Japan. Even though in past crises like the Great East Japan earthquake the Japanese patent translation industry did not take a huge hit, as the current crisis is different from what we have seen so we will have to wait and see for final evaluations.

In this article, we want to cover how the corona crisis did affect the overall language industry worldwide so far.

Business Decrease in Half of the Top Language Service Providers

According to CSA research 51% of CEOS of Top language service providers saw a decrease in business. 7% saw an increase, probably caused by Covid19 related documents, but that might most likely be temporary.

Whereas there is still a certain demand for translation, with a lot of conferences and big events not taking places this year, especially interpreting-centric companies are dealing with significant losses.

Most Language Service Providers switch to Remote Work

As a countermeasure against the virus, a lot of industries switched to remote work. The translation industry is no different. According to the above-mentioned survey, 87% of staff of the top language service providers is working remotely. Assumingly switching to remote work should have been easy for translators as they can easily work from home and most have probably already done so before corona hit.

For interpreters, the switch to remote turns out to be more difficult. But with the use of recent communication technology remote interpreting can also be made possible. While interpreting used to be an on-site job so far, we might see an overall change to remote interpreting in the future.

How did Freelance Translators get affected?

When looking at CSA surveys with freelance translators we can see that 61% saw a decrease regarding the amount of work. Freelance translators report that healthcare and medical translation demand has increased according. Travel and airline related translation in the contrary has decreased. Translators that are specialized in one of declining industries might have a hard time at the moment and maybe need to consider switching to another area.

According to Gary Massey, Director of the IUED Institute of Translation and Interpreting only 43% of freelance linguists report that they can receive financial support. In Japan freelancers can receive support from the government if they were not able to work due sickness or having to take care of their children as a consequence of the corona crisis, but they can’t claim support for lost business.

Overall effect on the Language Industry

Compared to the tourism or gastronomy industry the language industry was not impacted as heavily. Remote work is easily possible for most jobs and already was the standard for translators before the crisis. Some companies report a decrease in business but considering that in the future most probably more focus will be put on digital and online contents translations demand in these areas should increase. Interpreters are discovering a new way of remote working that if it becomes the new standard might save them travel time and their employers travel expenses.

How have you been affected by corona crisis so far?


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