The world community has for decades now continued to shrink into a global community with more trade and social integration taking centre stage around the world and drawing people from different cultural and language backgrounds together. The role of translators and interpreters in this demographic and business shift has continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Translation and interpretation which were considered ordinary skills have suddenly become huge employment creating fields of work with many earning income by practising these skills.
In the United States for example, between the period of 2002 to 2012, employment in both translation and interpretation fields of work grew by close to 100 percent with 3200 jobs being created and interpreting skills recording higher demand levels than translation skills.
South Africa has witnessed its own rise of these fields of work due to two different reasons. One of them being the change in the country’s political and social dispensation and also the country’s rapid economic growth and expansion into different parts of the world.
The post-apartheid inclusive political dispensation required that most government legislation, education materials, public health information etc, be translated from Afrikaans and English into other indigenous local languages to make this information more relevant for the masses.
Rapid economic growth and expansion has also seen a rise in the number of foreign investors like the Chinese coming to South Africa to do business. This growth has also seen many South African citizens looking for business opportunities in different parts of the world. Both these different groups of business people have constantly had to look for interpreters and translators to ease their communication and marketing challenges in new business territories.
Evidence of the growing importance of translation and interpretation services and the increased employment they have created can be seen by how local government municipalities around the country have now incorporated full time translation and interpretation departments into their structures, e.g. Tshwane municipality.
Another spin off in employment creation related to these fields of work has been the translation and interpretation equipment making and supplying companies. Thousands of technicians are now employed in this booming and financially viable segment of the economy.
It’s clear to see that interpretation and translation skills are critical in our modern day society and should be promoted and preserved.