“Technology is reducing the need for interpreters and translators.” You hear and read about it all the time. Many sources claim that the need for interpreters and translators is being reduced because of the rise in automation. Some even claim that technology will eliminate the need for translators and interpreters altogether. However, we would argue that is not likely to happen anytime soon.
It is definitely true that automation and technological advancement is eliminating a significant amount of jobs, but that is not necessarily the case for translators and interpreters. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for interpreters and translators will even increase by 18% by 2026. If we take a look at the landscape of international business right now, that should come as no surprise.
Because of globalization, companies are now more international than ever. Companies’ workforce is often spread all around the globe, which requires communications in different languages, not to mention the cultural differences that go along with doing business in different parts of the world. In the interest of economies of scale, more and more corporate partnerships are being established as well. Negotiating those deals could not be possible without translators or interpreters.
Secondly, companies now sell their products across the globe as well. That means every product needs to be adapted to the target market. Not only does the content need to be translated, but the images, colors and even the reading direction need to be changed depending on the culture of the target market.
Corporate policy has also changed dramatically over the years. Many Western corporations for example strive towards an all-inclusive language policy, which means they have been investing significantly in sign language interpretation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for sign language interpreters is expected to rise 46% from 2012 to 2022.
Aside from the growing demand for translators and interpreters, there are significant technological limitations to keep in mind as well. Machine translation and artificial intelligence does not (yet) have the interpreter’s capacity to mediate interactions, to fully grasp the interaction’s cultural context, or to read emotion and register. These elements are indispensable for a successful exchange of information and a successful interpreter assignment.
Computer-assisted translation tools or web translators may facilitate the translation process, but they are definitely not yet able to replace the important role of humans in the translation process. Also, again, given the increasingly globalized landscape of international business, it is fair to say that the jobs of translators and especially the jobs of interpreters are not going anywhere in the near future.
If you are a language service provider, check out how Interpreter Intelligence can help your organization to thrive in today’s globalized world.