Language Industry Job Index Delivers 5-Month Growth Streak

Slator Translation and Localization Language Industry Job Index - December 2020

Hiring activity in the language industry continues its growth streak after all-time lows observed during the height of Covid-19 in Q2 2020. In December 2020, the Slator Language Industry Job Index (LIJI) jumped by nearly four points, the biggest month-on-month increase since before the pandemic.

The December 2020 LIJI rose to 109.38 from the month prior, up from 105.43 in the month of November. October was also a milestone month as the index rebounded above the baseline, taken to be July 2018 (100), for the first time since March 2020. The index now stands around the level of March 2019.

The LIJI was developed to track employment and hiring trends in the global language industry. The July 2018 baseline is the starting point from which expansion or contraction of employment and hiring activity across the industry is measured.

The jump in the December index is linked to a significant increase in job ads from November 2020 across almost all platforms monitored by Slator. Observational data related to activity across the language industry in the month of November 2020 also showed strong indicators of a recovering industry.

In M&A news in November 2020, Lionbridge announced the sale of part of its business — the AI support services division — to a subsidiary of Canadian IT and communications company TELUS for around USD 935m. The acquisition marks a major success (SlatorPro) for Lionbridge’s private equity owner, H.I.G. Capital, which acquired the language service provider (LSP) in late 2016 for the price of USD 360m.

Another landmark transaction, worth USD 1.35bn, saw telemedicine and video remote interpreting (VRI) provider Cloudbreak Health snapped up by investors and taken public in a SPAC alongside digital health provider UpHealth — a first of its kind in language industry dealmaking.

In funding news, transcription and captioning provider Verbit raised USD 60m in a Series C round to fuel R&D as well as M&A (the latter an unusual growth strategy for venture-backed startups). Slator also covered news of a USD 14.6m funding round by Smartcat, completed in August 2020.

In a month of financial results and trading updates, interpreting provider LanguageLine announced strong quarterly results, while US-based rival, Stratus Video (SlatorPro), rebounded strongly from Q2 in the third quarter, as the use of healthcare services resumed following lockdowns.

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Japan’s Honyaku Center revised its half-year earnings forecast slightly upward and Poland-based LSP Summa Linguae Technologies also reported strong quarterly growth as language data services tripled

Two entertainment-focused localization providers reported positive results: UK-based media localizer ZOO Digital released unaudited interim results for the six months to September 30, 2020, with revenues climbing 15% year on year, while video game specialist Keywords Studios upgraded its 2020 forecast despite the impact of Covid-19.

In news from the translation buy-side, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) began its search for patent-specialized LSPs in preparation for a massive tender for ongoing translation requirements. The annual translation volume covered by the contract is around 52,000 documents (ca. 26m words) per year from German, Spanish, French, and Russian into English.

The Slator LIJI relies on LinkedIn for part of its underlying data. The social media site has some 500 million users, many of whom share data about their skills, experience, location, company, and job titles on their personal LinkedIn pages. There are over 600,000 profiles under the Translation and Localization category and a search using the keyword Localization also yields more than 600,000 profiles.

In addition to using data from LinkedIn, the Slator LIJI also culls data from a range of sources, including global job aggregation sites and additional direct company data collected from Slator LSPI companies.