ALC Bridge, our academic outreach initiative, looks for ways that ALC can increase its connections, relationships, and shared learning between the professional and academic sides of the language services supply chain. ALC would benefit from helping academic institutions and groups to understand businesses better so that they can better prepare our future linguists or employees for working in the real world.
Why It Is Needed
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2022, the number of jobs for professional translators and interpreters will grow 46%, adding at least 29,000 jobs. The growing use of machine translation will not reduce jobs for linguists. Instead, we are seeing it increase the demand for language services and increase the number of language specialists that will be needed.
But will those linguists have the skills employers and language service companies (LSCs) are looking for? Our industry is changing quickly, and linguists must adapt.
Many of the current academic and training programs focus solely on traditional language skills. More and more companies need linguists experienced and skilled at editing machine translation, but it is already very hard to find enough qualified post-editors.
LSCs have clients who are progressively more dependent on technological tools, not just machine translation. They will look for linguists who can work with these tools, programs, or formats.
The biggest trends we are seeing are machine translation, machine learning, multimedia content, and automation. Companies will look for linguists and staff who can help them with these trends so that they can grow the company.
Also, linguists will be more successful freelancers and have better working relationships with LSCs if they have a better understanding of business itself. With marketing, accounting, finance, and more, every linguist as a sole-proprietor would benefit from basic business education.
Few LSCs hire linguists as employees, but companies cannot offer training themselves. The federal and state governments across the United States use any form of training as justification for classifying freelancers as employees, which hurts both companies and freelancers. So LSCs rely on academic institutions to improve their curriculums. And the best way for those institutions to know how to do that is for ALC to work with them. LSCs will have a better and larger talent pool, and schools will improve the preparedness and employability of its students, which will attract even more students into its program.
The Work Being Done
ALC is working to ensure that the future has enough linguists to meet the increasing demand for language services, and that those linguists possess the skills and training that the future of our industry requires.
ALC helps with language advocacy. The JNCL-NCLIS lobbies the U.S. government on behalf of language service businesses, but it also advocates for a wide range of language policy to promote language education and learning in the United States. ALC supports the JNCL-NCLIS and both of these core missions. Also, ALC was an early signatory of the "Bridging America's Language Gap Call to Action" letter presented to Congress. Hundreds of associations, businesses, public and private organizations, and nonprofits have already signed it.
ALC sends members to universities to speak with administrators and to present to students. Such ALC representatives are also attending academic conferences that focus on different aspects of language development, from language learning to language for specific purposes. This exchange of ideas among businesses, schools, and students will be at the core of ALC Bridge's success. And, as we grow the initiative, ALC is working on even more ways to extend this dialogue, including forums and events.
Through our strong partnership with the European Language Industry Association (Elia), ALC is learning from the great example of the Elia Exchange program. Elia is kind enough to collaborate with ALC to help us develop and grow our academic outreach.