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Business is Booming! Demand for Interpreting Services Continues to Climb
Posted by Hélène Pielmeier on February 5, 2015  in the following blogs: Interpreting, Market Data
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In CSA Research’s 2014 annual market study, we computed that the opportunity for interpreting services and technology represents 17% of the total language services market (this year’s survey is under way - click here to participate). In addition, 14% of respondents told us that on-site interpreting is their fastest-growing service.

To gauge the state of the interpreting market, CSA Research conducted a survey of buyers of interpreting services from 25 countries on whether they have seen their organization’s demand for interpreting increase for any language over the last five years. A hefty majority of 66% said that it has. We uncovered six trends that language service providers will find useful in their business planning:

  1. Overall demand is on the rise. One type of interpreting often grows at the expense of another, but not always. Buyers relate a steady increase in absolute demand that explains in part the sustained growth of the service. It stems from the increase in the number of interpreting assignments more so than an increase in their duration.
  2. Population displacements modify interpreting needs. Some buyers experienced growth in a specific community of speakers in their area. For example, the arrival of refugees from another country added to the list of languages they needed to support.
  3. Regulated organizations emphasize compliance. Legislation requiring language access gets the attention of organizations providing certain services. For example, health care, legal entities, and emergency response teams become more insistent on providing access to interpreters as they gain a greater understanding of the legal or regulatory requirements.
  4. People better know their rights to access an interpreter. Internal staff education efforts have led to interpreting beneficiaries becoming increasingly aware of their option to receive language assistance, often at no cost.
  5. The need for interpretation follows economic and business trends. Whenever a company enters a new market, it often adds language capabilities to support external client and prospect needs, and to enable training and communication across internal teams. Meanwhile, economic changes can alter the need for language support in current markets. For example, one respondent cited the growing need to provide interpreting support for the growing number of unemployment compensation claims.
  6. Force majeure disrupts language priorities. Our respondents cited examples of natural and political events ranging from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to the accession of new countries joining the European Union.
In the future, the various types of interpreting won’t all experience the same steady growth. On-site interpreting is under siege by providers of over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI). Part of that market will succumb to these less costly alternatives, which often have the additional benefit of being available on demand. Even conference interpreting could see some of its work converted to VRI. However, buyers won’t eliminate any interpreting type from their communication tool portfolio. CSA Research expects further efforts by LSPs and technology suppliers to devise systems that connect a variety of interpreting resources – such as in-house linguists, interpreter networks, and OPI and VRI vendors - and enable buyers to prioritize the order of deployment of resources based on the use case and urgency.

Interpreting presents significant opportunities for language service providers. However, not everyone should offer the service or invest heavily in it. Make sure you are the right candidate capable to adapting to the pace, human resource models, and technology needs that the service requires.


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Related Research
Trends in Conference Interpreting
Trends in On-Site Interpretation
Trends in Over-the-Phone Interpreting
Trends in Video Remote Interpreting
The State of the Interpreting Market
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