As a project manager, I always believed in acknowledging improvements as well as highlighting any issues. A few years ago I remember approaching the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) desk at a trade show. The attitude was that irritatingly prevalent one in Britain that "everyone speaks English". They seemed to see languages as the FCO's job, somehow divorced from export issues. Lately, I have noticed some dramatic improvements at UKTI.
Language and Culture
Firstly, at the 2014 London Language Show, UKTI had a Language and Culture Adviser on the stand. He had studied the Chinese language and culture in the UK and China. It was a new appointment. It is a welcome change in attitude and direction.
Last year, I also attended an excellent UKTI seminar on web optimisation for international trade. Our trainer was very knowledgeable. It was particularly impressive that she had reviewed every participant's website in advance. She had some valuable recommendations.
UKTI also has a very professional-looking and helpful brochure for exporters. It is entitled "Improving your business communications". The subtitle is "Overcoming language and cultural barriers in business: a guide for exporters". It offers a good introduction to export issues. It has sections on languages, translation, interpreting, handling international enquiries and language training.
I am glad that UKTI refers exporters to professional translation and interpreting associations in their brochure. They name the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). Both are associations of which I am a Member and Career Affiliate respectively. My one complaint is that the brochure's pricing is based on outdated estimates in 2012. The brochure was printed in 2013. Hopefully, there will be an update and reprint for 2015.
Freelancers and SMEs
According to a 2012 US Bureau of Statistics' report, the translation industry is expected to grow 42% between 2010-2020. The UK is outstripping the Eurozone growth average. The IMF forecasts UK growth of 2.7% in 2015. UKTI is keen to encourage more SMEs to export. Freelance translators are far more able to help small businesses than larger, more inflexible agencies. Training, standards and associations are improving the image, visibility and reputation of the profession.
Professional rate increase
Sectors in high demand can command higher rates to deliver the increased level of services required by exporters. I would argue that the translation profession has a very strong case here for a major increase in professional rates, even outstripping trends elsewhere. A strong profession will have even greater influence on export success.
In the January/February 2015 issue of ITI's Bulletin magazine, there was an article on a UKTI market visit for SMEs to Germany. I will visit France for a UKTI-backed event in 2015. I have also discovered that UKTI runs some very informative webinars. I recommend that you sign up to UKTI's mailing list. You will get advance notice of regional, in-country and online events related to your target markets.
From this former project manager: well done UKTI, onward and upward please.
Karen Andrews runs Anglicity Ltd.
She is an entrepreneurial French to
English translator, content writer,
editor and marketing consultant.
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