How will Brexit impact the translation industry?

27/03/2019 | Rebecca Twose

As a language service provider we rely on international trade, and as Brexit has been all that the UK has talked about recently, we wanted to take a look how Brexit might impact the  translation industry. Brexit has led to confusion and despair amongst the public as the UK Government failed to put a proper exit deal in place to date and eventually had to ask for an extension on the Brexit deadline. This has led to many industries feeling extremely uncertain about their future post-Brexit, promoting some businesses leave due to uncertainty, but definitely causing every business concerned with international trade to consider its core work methodologies.  

Here are a few ways we believe that Brexit could affect the translation industry…

More work for translators

The entire Brexit process will have already generated thousands of documents that require translation, with many more still to come after March 29th. This is a positive thing for the translation industry as it means a likely rise in work for the translators. However this type of translation isn’t easy,  many issues related to the exit of a Member State from the EU have not been regulated yet. Other regulations will continue to emerge during the post-Brexit process, which will be quite a challenge for translators who will have to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis and keep up to date with current knowledge.

A change in the economy

One of the main selling points of the Leave Campaign was that Brexit will improve the economy. However, according to experts it will take a few years before the benefits begin to show. Nonetheless, economic growth is beneficial for many industries and should have positive effects on the translation industry too. Britain will of course hope to see some trade agreements with EU members, whilst growing their relations and agreements with non-EU members too. For translators, this means an increase in work in non-European languages, such as Chinese and Japanese. However, if the economy does not benefit from Brexit, and rather suffers instead, the translation industry will be affected by this too. If the value of the pound falls then this could mean the price of  translation in the UK increases when buying in Euros, becoming too costly.  

The impact on languages

One question that we’ve been wondering about is whether or not English will remain as an official EU language after Brexit. Each EU member has the right to choose their official language that all of their documents are translated into. Britain obviously chose English as their official language, but they were the only country to do so as Malta opted for Maltese and Ireland chose Irish. Therefore, if English doesn’t remain an official EU language post-Brexit then that means there will no longer be a need for documents to be translated into English, which could affect the level of work for English translators.

Language learning in schools could also be affected by Brexit as language learning In UK schools has already been declining over the previous years. Learning languages like German have dropped by 16% and French by 8% in 2017. It is hard to say whether this decline is directly related to Brexit, but it could be argued that students will no longer feel as much of a need to study foreign languages post-Brexit.

Recruitment

At language insight we employ in-house native linguists as part of our quality assurance process.  Due to the new immigration policies that are likely to be implemented because of Brexit, we expect to find it harder to recruit those in-house staff from EU countries like Germany, France or Italy. No matter what the rules, our EU staff may feel perhaps unwanted by the society in which they wish to live and work. We rely heavily on EU staff here and in order to enable growth with quality need to be able to recruit and attract such staff.

We will be keeping a close eye on the latest Brexit news over the next few weeks to see if MPs accept the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, or if we end up leaving with a no-deal Brexit. As for the translation industry, we hope that Brexit doesn’t cause too much chaos, but we all need to be prepared for a post-Brexit future, whatever the outcome…

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