August 2017
By Eyvor Fogarty

Image: © LIND

Eyvor Fogarty is a board member of FIT Europe, the European centre for the International Federation of Translators, with a remit for life-long learning. Her commitment to the translation profession has been recognized with a Pushkin Gold Medal from the Russian Union of Translators and the John B. Sykes Prize for Excellence from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, UK.




Promoting the language industry: Meet the LIND Expert Group

LIND is an expert group running under the aegis of the Directorate-General Translation of the EU. LIND members come from all branches of the translation industry and their meetings focus on direct experience, lateral thinking and productive output.

Translation has come of age. What used to be described as an art and a niche for highly-skilled professionals is now defined in terms of revenue gains and growth rates. Translation today is a global industry worth billions of dollars. From the isolation of kitchen tables and converted garages, translation has moved into an industry employing millions of people in a highly competitive market. It was against this background that the Directorate-General Translation (DGT) of the EU set up the Language Industry (LIND) Expert Group with the aim of improving the industry’s visibility, set best practices, advance rules and standards, and identify new trends and expectations.

The LIND Expert Group was established by the European Commission’s Translation Service DGT back in 2012. Its primary objective is to generate data about the language industry. The Commission’s Study on the Size of the Language Industry in the EU, published in 2009, had highlighted the need for data and a general lack of reliable and comprehensible data for essential and efficient planning.

LIND began its quest for sector-specific employment figures with data from NACE. However, this soon proved to be unsatisfactory because the data collected could not be broken down into sufficient detail, and in some cases information was not available due to confidentiality legislation.

The aim of coordinating good intranational input from experts backed up by hard data from surveys led to the LIND group becoming a partner in the European Language Industry Survey, a joint effort by major language industry associations such as EUATC, ELIA, GALA, FIT Europe and EMT. This expanded survey was launched for the first time in 2016, with the aim of gathering Europe-wide information on industry trends such as sales, investments and training.

The second edition of the survey was launched in January 2017, and the results were published in March 2017. Whether you use Markov chains or mindfulness to enhance your translation business, this survey is essential reading. Data acquisition may seem to be one of the most prosaic things around, but big numbers bring the power to analyze, the capability to compete, and the authority to exercise some control over your business environment. The data from our survey can help everyone, from individual freelancers to small language service providers to large global organizations.

Over the past five years, the group has supported the European Commission in its various initiatives, such as addressing the skills gap (in graduate employment), enhancing employability and strengthening the business continuity of the language sector. In these initiatives, the LIND group has worked closely with other stakeholders, such as the European Master’s in Translation (EMT) network and the European Skills, Competences and Occupations Classification (ESCO). All these activities are fully in line with the larger political objective of the European Commission agenda for new skills and jobs.

Occupational profiling

The collaboration with ESCO was particularly rewarding. ESCO’s consultation on occupational profiles in engineering, scientific and technical activities also includes the translation and interpretation sector, and LIND experts were actively involved in developing these profiles. The original classification for the sector had contained three occupations: translator, interpreter and sign language interpreter.

By 2017, the classification has been extended to include eight new occupations: localizer, lawyer linguist, linguist, subtitler, audio describer, translation agency manager, interpretation agency manager, and language engineer. With their definitions translated into all official EU languages, these occupations will be used in future classifications for cross-matching labor market needs, for data generation and for online job portals. For the latter, this means that job seekers will be able to match their CVs and resumes to these classifications and identify any gaps in their portfolios.

The underlying goal is to improve employability and job mobility, with a system that can reveal differences and make useful connections in Europe’s multicultural job environment. ESCO sent LIND its own "job reference", praising the team for its contribution to "making the first multilingual classification of skills, competences, qualifications, and occupations a reality." At this stage, ESCO is only open to public sector employers, but this is expected to change in the future to include private sector employers as well.

Working with European industry and universities

The LIND Group has also given advice on the shaping of the university quality label for the European Master in Translation. Here, its role has been to support the employability elements incorporated in the programs and to help students find work after graduation.

Universities are under more and more pressure to prioritize employment skills for their graduates. The LIND group has initiated projects where universities and companies jointly provide training to university students that will enhance their skills to help them find work after they graduate. These skills include project management, post-editing and terminology management. The running of placements is a key area of expertise that LIND can offer, and it has backed up its advice with practical examples. Students can look for work placements via EUATC, GALA and ELIA member lists.

With guidance and expertise from LIND member Kim Harris, the group launched a set of practical pilot projects in 2016, where EMT universities, tool providers and LSPs work together in the framework of translation assignment courses, providing students with real-life tools and mentoring when carrying out translation assignments during their translation course. Based on the positive feedback from university teachers, students and LSPs, the pilots have been extended for several EMT universities in 2017.

Further industry-university cooperation will be advanced by LIND, under the guidance of member Michael Fritz, with his keen interest in lifelong learning and technical communication.

LIND member Claudio Chiavetta has highlighted the changes currently taking place in the industry, in the form of emerging new services, such as multimedia, e-learning, transcreation and post-editing MT, and has underscored the willingness of employers to bridge the gap between the industry and training through initiatives such as LIND. Chiavetta and Mirko Silvestrini from EUATC are part of the "bridge" group between LIND and the EMT network.

The Translating Europe Forum

In November, the DGT will run its fourth Translating Europe Forum (TEF), an annual gathering held in Brussels, where LIND provides crucial input for the content of the program. Students can showcase their work, researchers can disclose their findings, industry representatives can network, and translators can find work opportunities. By bringing together people from all sectors of the industry, the forum fosters synergies and promotes visibility and professionalism. Businesses of any size thrive on new contacts and new ideas, and TEF is an ideal platform for the LIND mission of sharing meaningful information and data.

The future of the industry and LIND

LIND is here to stay and to act as a reference point for all professionals willing to get involved in the very complex world of translation. That is what excites LIND members about their roles.

During the few years of its existence, the team has developed an all-embracing platform. The scope of the group has been extended to include the external and internal issues of visibility and professionalization of the language industry; these are long-standing desiderata and have been widely welcomed within the industry.

Professor Jorge Díaz-Cintas puts this into a personal focus: "Having to adapt to constant, rapid changes is an enormous challenge for any industry and having a body whose mission is to encourage collaboration and to promote the cultural and financial significance of translation in our society, by supporting best practices and disseminating knowledge, is to me a most welcome step in the right direction."

He sums it up nicely: "One of the main allures of LIND is that it offers a space to promote initiatives and expand our knowledge in the language industry so that we can meet current needs and anticipate future ones."

Image: LIND members from left to right: Claudio Chiavetta, Andrejs Vasiljevs, Françoise Bajon, Jorge Diaz-Cintas, Kim Harris, Mirko Silvestrini, Eyvor Fogarty, Inkaliisa Vihonen (DGT), Nino Platteel.
Missing: Christophe Declercq, Michael Fritz.