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ATC applauds Baroness Coussins’ move to debate the Immigration White Paper and its implication for language skills

Baroness Coussins has secured a slot on 23 January to debate the Immigration White Paper and its implication for language skills in the House of Lords to raise, in part, the concerns of the Association of Translation Companies, the ATC.  The debate will be:

‘To ask HMG how immigration policy post-Brexit will take account of the recruitment of EU and other foreign nationals to jobs in teaching modern foreign languages and public service interpreting’

The key issues are:

  1. a) the salary threshold (currently proposed to be £30k per year), and
  2. b) how highly rated (or otherwise) language skills will be deemed to be in a ‘skills-based’ approach to immigration

Raisa McNab, the ATC’s CEO, who is available for interview, stated: “The UK language services industry is worth £1.15bn to the British economy and the needs of our businesses, employees and clients are being overlooked while the UK Government scrambles for clarity over Brexit.

“In a post-Brexit Britain, language services – translation and interpreting – are set to play an increasingly significant role in enabling and facilitating UK businesses’ import and export strategies.

“There is a critical need to safeguard the staff in UK’s language service companies and the translators and interpreters who work for these companies, whose sole purpose is to support global communications. Not just the people who are already in this country, but the people who will be needed in years to come to keep the wheels turning.

“The Government’s white paper outlines the future of immigration through the existing Tier 2 visa scheme. We know this is a blow to many sectors who rely on being able to recruit from outside of the UK, and the language services sector will also feel the effects.

“The language services industry needs skilled and qualified native speakers of different languages, linguists recruited from across the EU and other countries. Subjecting recruitment of staff that, essentially, cannot continue to be recruited from within the UK to cumbersome, time-consuming and costly visa schemes will be a major challenge to UK LSPs in years to come.

“The ATC is calling on the Government to safeguard the access of UK companies to the linguistic skills provided by translators and interpreters in the years to come, and to ensure that the route to linguistic positions remains accessible for companies recruiting these linguists.”

Having taken advice from a Brexit specialist immigration lawyer, the ATC is now calling all UK LSPs to respond to a short survey on their EU staff, to inform the position of UK LSPs here.

Interview topics that may be of interest

Raisa is available for interview and will outline the importance of the language industry to the UK, post-Brexit, highlighting the following:

  • The ATC is calling on the Government to safeguard the access of UK companies to the linguistic skills provided by translators and interpreters to stop an exodus of skills and revenue leaving the UK
  • Languages services already play a significant role in UK plc’s prosperity; with Brexit fast approaching, this critical service, which provides translators and interpreters, will be placed at the heart of global communications crucial for international trade
  • The vast majority of UK’s public service translation and interpreting is carried out by contracted freelancers and in the Immigration White Paper, the Government has made no provision for these kinds of professionals who provide a vital service to our public sector, but are not employed directly by the companies holding the contracts.
  • The future of this kind of stream of professionals into the UK is very severely handicapped under the current plans, and may cause considerable disruption in the delivery of multilingual services for the public sector
  • An annual survey by the ATC puts the number of UK language service companies at 1,200, employing 12,000 staff and with an estimated annual revenue of £1.15bn.
  • The industry relies heavily on European linguists living in the UK, and is threatened by the restrictive recruitment process likely to be imposed after EU withdrawal
  • Native British linguists supply some of the required language skills; however, the industry needs mother tongue speakers to produce top quality services, most of whom cannot be recruited in the UK
  • The post-Brexit immigration salary threshold of £30,000 (the current requirement for non-EU nationals) will not cover a number of essential roles in the language service industry
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