Several ATC members are playing a welcome part in supporting language studies at their local universities in the face of declining numbers of school leavers embarking on modern language degrees.
There are fears that the dwindling number of young people studying modern languages at university could reduce the number of qualified translators in the country at a time when Brexit means effective global communication is vital for the future of the UK economy.
But we know many of our members are taking their own steps to support university language departments, including Sandberg Translation Partners (STP) which works closely with six UK universities offering Translation Studies programmes at Masters level.
Anu Carnegie-Brown, STP’s Managing Director, has piloted an innovative Business Challenge Workshop with MA translation students at the University of Surrey in Guildford. Anu said: “The students learned business-like attitudes when they had to research and offer solutions to real management-level challenges at a translation company. The collaborative workshop was a great success and will be repeated later this year.”
Elsewhere in Hampshire, Fareham-based Intonation has had links with the University of Portsmouth for nearly 20 years. The company’s Commercial Director Dan Peachey said: “It’s important we do what we can to support university language departments, as their graduates are vital for the future of the growing UK translation industry.”
Intonation provides regular placements for University of Portsmouth interns, attends the University’s careers fairs and provides guest speakers for events.
Dan added: “I am regularly interviewed by undergraduates about the industry and translation in general by students on the BA course, and have offered assistance on a translation agency simulation module which is run as part of their courses. As a result, we regularly take on students – mostly from the MA Translation and BA Applied Languages courses.”
In the Midlands, Leamington Spa-based Comtec has been attending Aston University’s annual Translation Conference for many years to give presentations to students detailing the translation process from start to finish, aiming to provide a ‘real-life’ insight into the translation industry.
Comtec Director Isabella Moore said: “Students are often not aware of the opportunities available to them, particularly within project management. We highlight how their specific skills set and language background is the perfect start for a career in project management. We also work with the students on some simulation project management exercises, which have helped them understand how translation companies process translation requests for clients and how we work with suppliers on a freelance basis.”
Students at the University of Essex have just finished competing in the fifth annual Translation Challenge, run by Chelmsford-based ‘TTC wetranslate’. More than 60 language and linguistic students worked in teams on a real translation project for local company, Meters Music, who specialise in sound engineering, including state-of-the-art headphones and earpieces.
The winners of the challenge, designed to give students the experience of working in a team, for a commercial client, on a commercial text and to a professional deadline, earned a coaching/mentoring session from Levent Yildizgoren, Managing Director, of ‘TTC wetranslate’ as well as headphones from Meters Music and a Certificate of Achievement.
Levent, who was also given a placard from the University to thank him for his support for the past five years, said: “Our Translation Challenge is now an established event and has proven to be instrumental in complementing students’ studies and their progress for employability.
“The challenge is far from an academic exercise as Meters Music are putting the resulting translations to work in their business by having their shopping site translated into different languages.”
The project has been so successful that he has just launched an international version of the challenge at Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey, which finishes with an awards ceremony on 15th March.
Meanwhile Mark Robinson, Managing Director of Alexika, crossed the Pennines from Addingham, near Leeds, to Lancaster University in January to give a guest seminar to MA students as part of the University’s Translation Seminar Series. Alexika also offers placements to Lancaster language students at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Mark said: “It is a pleasure to have them here and they always ask some interesting, stimulating and often challenging questions about what we do – it is great for us to be challenged in this way. I believe the students learn a lot from seeing how translation is valued in the real world, have exposure to working professional translators and gain particular benefits from seeing the project management process in action – and also getting their hands on the latest language technology in a real world situation.”
Roy Allkin, chair of the ATC, said: “The UK’s £1 billion language sector grew by 7% in 2016, and Brexit also means there will be huge opportunities for UK exporters to use the skills of translators in the future. So it’s a worry that fewer young people have the opportunity to study languages, but it’s fantastic that so many of our member companies are taking their own steps to support university language departments.”