Slator Job Index Edges Down Slightly in January 2020

The Slator Language Industry Job Index (LIJI) was developed to track how employment and hiring activity trend in the global language industry.

In January 2020, the Slator LIJI fell to 107.69 from 108.95 in December 2019. The baseline was taken to be July 2018 (100), the starting point from which was measured expansion or contraction of employment and hiring activity across the industry.

The dip for January 2020 mirrors the slow start to the year seen in January 2019 after a new high was reached in December 2018. The index fell further in February 2019 before rebounding and eventually growing for six consecutive months between July 2019 and December 2019.

The downward trend in January 2020 was reflected in a number of the indicators used for the LIJI, particularly the number of job postings on all the job aggregation sites monitored by Slator, and the number of people returned using a keyword search for Localization on LinkedIn. However, there was a slight increase in the number of job postings by Slator LSPI companies, which mitigated the overall decrease.

Observational data relating to activity across the language industry in the month of December 2019 showed lulls in certain types of news, namely demand drivers and people moves, outside of the 15 buyer moves Slator tracked in the December 2019 Language Industry Buyer Tracker (PRO). Although it was a relatively quiet month for deal wins, Slator reported that Lionbridge won USD 1.1m via two Canadian government contracts for patent translation.

The end of 2019 was a particularly busy season for M&A. Polish language service provider (LSP) Summa Linguae Technologies (SLT) acquired two North American LSPs, Globalme and GlobalVision. The acquisitions coincided with SLT’s sale of 51% of its shares to private equity.

Game localization powerhouse Keywords Studios bought machine translation provider KantanMT for up to EUR 7m, and Finnish LSP Transfluent acquired two local boutique LSPs.

Canadian LSP Traductions Serge Bélair appointed a new CEO and announced a recapitalization agreement with American private equity firm Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company (HKW).

For some, 2019 ended on a low note. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) faced criticism after informing would-be suppliers for its large TRAD19 language services contract that they would need to resit for their exams due to a malfunctioning third-party testing platform.

After just eight months, the Danish National Police canceled its four-year, USD 80m contract with LSP EasyTranslate, citing subpar contract delivery, poor handling of complaints, and “serious breaches of data protection rules.”

California freelancers started to feel the negative effects of “gig worker bill” AB5, even before it went into effect on January 1, 2020 (despite vocal protests by individuals and professional groups representing interpreters and translators).

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 about their skills, experience, location, company, and job title 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.