Many UK businesses rely on professional business translation services since they do not have sufficient language skills within their workforce.
Technical Translations have already discussed the problem of the decline in language learning in the UK; with new GCSE results showing that the take-up of foreign languages is in freefall, with the most dramatic drop being in German and French.
In 2004, the previous Government took the decision to make language learning optional after the age of 14, and it is thought that the numbers of students choosing to continue studying a foreign language has been dropping since then. Both the Queen’s University in Belfast and the University of Leicester have plans to scrap their German departments, and a decline in the provision of languages as well as in their take-up appears to be a countrywide trend.
For providers of professional business translation services like ourselves, this kind of news is both good and bad news, because whilst it may be good for business to have lots of clients who need professional business translation services, it is important for us to be able to keep recruiting new translators to replace those going into retirement.
In stark contrast to this drop in language studies, the demand for new, qualified translators, and particularly those who have moved into providing business translation services of one kind and another, has been rising steadily.
We have already reported on an increase in overseas sales operations by UK firms, and with more and more companies exporting abroad, there is a growing demand for commercially qualified and experienced translators to translate documents such as contracts, proposals and marketing material.
We will, of course, be keeping our ears to the ground on this particular issue, and it will be interesting to see what, if any action the incumbent Government will take.
According to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, languages became compulsory for 7-11-year-olds as of 2011, but will this be enough to stop the gap?