How Covid-19 affected the Language Interpretation Industry

COVID-19 has irreversibly altered the globe, compelling the translation and interpretation sector to swiftly adopt digital technology and tools in order to minimise interruption to day-to-day operations.

Multinational enterprises and international organisations have had to convert worldwide, face-to-face engagements into online video conferencing since early March 2020. While frontline employees are unquestionably the unsung heroes of this crisis, translators have been critical to the effective operation of numerous businesses, from court hearings and medical visits to government conferences and supported learning.

However, there has been a significant strain on interpreters who have been forced to adapt to new remote and home working conditions—a situation that appears to be the new normal.

From mid-June to mid-July 2020, the French professional organisation SFT (Société française des traducteurs) conducted a study according to which 57% of the 526 participants felt the crisis will have a negative influence on their job. Of the 57 per cent, 48 per cent expected to have to work a second job, 23 per cent were contemplating retraining, and 15 per cent were considering temporarily halting their employment.

The CSA research institute undertook a global study of freelance translators in August 2020 which revealed the same patterns appearing throughout the translating community, based on 1,174 responses from 97 countries: reduced income, fewer job prospects, and a decrease in workload, but relatively few requests for lower rates. Furthermore, 65 per cent of respondents said COVID-19 had a temporary impact on the market, 25 per cent believed it had a permanent impact, and 10 per cent believed it had no impact at all. According to the poll, demand for translation services is increasing in certain industries while decreasing in others. According to the CSA study, 64% of LSPs indicate a rise in demand for interpretation in the health sector, with 59% reporting increased demand from the life sciences, medical, and pharmaceutical sectors.

The Benefits

Though many translators are used to working from home with the help of glossaries and style guidelines, face-to-face interpreters have been the worst affected. While demand for language service providers (LSPs) has decreased in areas such as events and travel and leisure, certain verticals appear to have witnessed an increase in demand.

The shift in demand for interpretation services tends to differ greatly between industries. Remote and virtual interpretation services are in high demand as companies explore new methods to connect with their employees, customers and other stakeholders.

In the previous several months, Zoom's stock has quadrupled in value as video conferencing and remote working has grown more commonplace.

LSPs are pushing their staff to work from home utilising videoconferencing and online interpreting platforms in an effort to restore some semblance of normalcy.

The new normal is a natural development that has been accelerated by the pandemic of COVID-19. Most events are expected to continue in virtual and hybrid settings in the near future, as many organisations already extended their home office policy until late 2021 and strengthened a tight no travel policy.

What can we expect in the future?

To be successful in our new normal, any LSP must be resilient and adaptable. The LSPs that can provide interpretation services via online platforms are already in a stronger position than those that traditionally work offline. Not to imply that offline LSPs have lost the war; in fact, many interpreters are already upgrading their skills and becoming familiar with online platforms so that they may offer their services wherever their clients need them.

Online platforms and hybrid solutions for interpreters are growing more widespread as lockdown eases in various nations. There will be more attention on solutions that streamline and improve future experiences once markets reopen.

As event planners battle "zoom fatigue," the transition to remote participation has opened up new demands for inclusion and audience involvement. An event's chances of success increase when participants take part in the discussion in their own language and the audience has access to an accurate rendering of speakers' contributions.

This might contribute to a rise in the need for interpretation services in the long run, since remote interpretation and participation can be more easily arranged for smaller groups and are more economical.

Video translating appointments at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia, for example, have gone from 10–15 appointments per month (before COVID-19) to 100–200 appointments per month now.

In Conclusion

COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the way interpreters work in the future, even if it won't exist forever. Interpreters need to be resilient, adaptable, and able to meet the needs of today's digital-first environment in order for interpreting services to grow and exhibit value.

No one can argue with the fact that online interpretation is the way of the future for conferences, seminars, and press encounters. Fortunately, there are currently instruments in place that can help assist this paradigm change. With Language Services Bureau get professional interpretation aid for all your needs. Language Services Bureau offers Remote interpreting, remote simultaneous and online consecutive interpretation in almost all Indian and international languages.

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