Slator has relaunched the Slator Language Industry Job Index (LIJI) from May 2020 using updated metrics to provide an even more meaningful picture of job market trends in the language industry.
Given the widespread uncertainty in the current job market and the importance of providing a reliable reference for job market trends, the decision was taken to refine the methodology used in deriving an index figure from underlying data points.
The Slator Language Industry Job Index (LIJI) was developed to track how employment and job market activity trend in the global language industry. The baseline was taken to be July 2018 (100), the starting point for measuring expansion or contraction of employment and hiring activity across the industry.
The LIJI 2.0 better reflects movements in the language industry job market, including the ongoing impact of coronavirus. While the LIJI 2.0 still relies on the same data points as the original Index, the weighting of the various categories has been adjusted, along with a number of other factors, to provide a more balanced and nuanced view of the language industry jobs market.
The new weightings have been applied to all underlying data for the LIJI since July 2018, resulting in more pronounced month-on-month changes in the Index 2.0. These new metrics will be used going forward.
The downward trend in May was reflected across all indicators used for the LIJI, including the number of job postings on all job aggregation sites monitored by Slator, and the number of job postings on leading language service provider websites.
May 2020 is the second consecutive month in which the LIJI has recorded a significant drop. The 15-point decline during the month comes as the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — which has brought business activity in certain sectors and economies to a near standstill since March 2020 — has started to take effect.
While the Index measures job market activity as it happens, the full extent of the disruption to the broader economy may not emerge for several months. We will continue to track the trend throughout June and July 2020.
The decline in the LIJI is reflective of the pressure facing the language industry as a whole, as recruitment for language service providers (LSPs) has all but stalled. For example, in April 2020, the language industry’s best funded startup, Unbabel, laid off around 80 of its staff, while SDL announced a virtual freeze on hiring. In May 2020, Australia-listed Straker said it was “right-sizing” to save around USD 2m over the year.
While LSPs put a freeze on recruitment, a number of big tech companies have continued to actively hire localization managers (SlatorPro). The technology sector, and more so big tech, is comparatively less affected by the pandemic than other harder-hit industries.
Coronavirus is also having some curious and unexpected consequences. According to research firm McKinsey & Co., the number of job postings for translators and interpreters in the US grew faster than any other category between March 18 and April 16, 2020. Why? The bump appears to be linked to a hyper-specific demand for healthcare interpreters in US hospitals, as coronavirus hospitalizations are disproportionately high among non-English speakers.
The Slator LIJI relies on LinkedIn for a substantial part of the underlying data. The social media site has some 500 million users, many of whom share data on their personal LinkedIn pages about their skills, experience, location, company, and job title. In May 2020, there were over 700,000 profiles under the Translation and Localization category, and a search using the keyword Localization also yielded more than 700,000 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.