Boosting Translator Employability: European MA in Translation Framework Updated

Translation Employability EMT

The European Master’s in Translation (EMT) network published an updated version of its framework for translator and translation competence on October 21, 2022.

The framework aims to “best equip and empower future translation graduates” and increase their employability across Europe. It is currently among the leading reference standards for translator training across the European Union and beyond, both in academia and industry.

The framework, first released in 2009, underwent thorough revision in 2017. The fundamental principles established in 2017 are still valid in the 2022 version, which covers 2023–2028. To reflect the aims of European translation programs that train graduates for a dynamic and highly technologized workplace, a minor update was deemed necessary.

Technology might have an ever-increasing impact on the way translation services are performed, but “human intelligence, knowledge, and skills are still the key factors in delivering quality translations and the growing range of language services which translators and translation companies can provide,” according to the EMT.

Reiterating the significance of linguistic, sociolinguistic, cultural, and transcultural skills, the framework highlights the need for these human skills. As explicitly pointed out, “This does not mean a narrower focus, but rather an awareness of human skills as a differentiator in a technologized employment market, where linguistic, critical, and ethical competencies can combine to produce a transversal skill set to equip graduates for the future.”

The five core competencies of the framework are listed below and should be equally significant when delivering translation services.

Language and Culture

All the linguistic, sociolinguistic, cultural, and transcultural knowledge and abilities — whether general or language-specific — that form the basis for advanced translation skill are included in this competence.

During their studies, translation students should perfect their competencies in these areas. More specifically, they should be able to

  • understand the function of language variations (social, geographical, or historical);
  • use the appropriate grammatical, lexical, and idiomatic structures of their working languages;
  • identify cultural elements, values, and references (including presuppositions, allusions, and stereotypes); and 
  • write in accordance with cultural conventions, as well as conventions of genre and rhetorical standards, among others.

Translation 

Language and culture competence might be “the driving force” behind all other competencies in this framework, but translation competence “lies at the heart” of them.

According to this framework, translation competence “should be understood in the broadest sense.” It covers not only the actual meaning transfer between two languages (including the use of pivot languages) but also all the strategic, methodological, and thematic competencies that come into play before, during, and after the transfer phase — from document analysis to final quality-control procedures.

The use of machine translation (MT) is becoming more prevalent in translation workflows, and this section emphasizes that MT literacy and the awareness of MT’s capabilities and limitations are essential components of professional translation competence.

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Technology 

This competence covers all the knowledge and skills required to implement current and emerging translation technologies within the translation process, as well as to advise on their use. It also includes the ability to use MT in accordance with anticipated needs and a working knowledge of MT technology.

This section also demonstrates data literacy by recognizing the importance and value of translation and linguistic data.

Personal and Interpersonal  

All soft skills that improve adaptation and employability fall within this competence category, including time and workload management, stress resistance, critical thinking, and self-evaluation. Translation graduates should also be proficient in using social media for work-related goals and working both independently and in teams.

Service Provision

This competence includes all of the skills related to providing language services in a professional setting — from awareness of clients, commissioners, and users to negotiation, project management, and quality assurance.