The Slator Language Industry Job Index (LIJI) was developed to track how employment and hiring activity trend in the global language industry.
In April 2020, the Slator LIJI fell to 107.04 from 110.30 in March 2020. 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.
Having climbed 7.62 percentage points in 2019, the index experienced a slight dip in January 2020, consistent with a similar seasonal dip in January 2019. It then rebounded in February 2020 and reached a new high in March 2020, before dropping by nearly three percentage points in April 2020 to levels not seen since November 2019.
The downward trend in April was reflected across all the 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. There was a less pronounced decrease in the number of profiles returned using a keyword search for Translation and Localization on LinkedIn, which slowed the overall decrease.
The decrease of the Slator Language Industry Job Index comes as the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — which has brought business activity in certain sectors and economies to a near standstill over the past month — begins to hit. While the Index measures hiring activity as it happens, the true extent of the disruption to the broader economy may not emerge for the next weeks and months. We will continue to track the trend throughout May and June 2020.
As expected, March 2020 saw a slowing of M&A and funding deals tracked by Slator. Slator covered two transactions during the month, with news that Canada’s OXO Innovations had acquired local rival Communications Transcript, and that the owner of remote interpreting system Martti, Cloudbreak, had secured USD 10m in funding.
Several UK-listed LSPs delayed publication of their full-year 2019 financial results in observation of a moratorium requested by the country’s financial regulator. SDL, Keywords Studios, and ZOO Digital instead released updates for investors, emphasizing the strength of their respective balance sheets and their business preparedness for coronavirus, including work-from-home measures.
Media localizer ZOO Digital noted an uptick in demand for localization of back-catalog content from OTT platforms as customers press pause on original content production, and while employees and other talent are unable to travel or gather in groups.
There were some other green shots amid widespread economic uncertainty, as public sector procurement ground on. Slator covered news that the UK police is piloting a new approach to supplier management in a GBP 100m interpreting tender, while the EU is offering grants of between EUR 0.2–0.8m to developers of “language tools” and “language resource projects.”
Slator also published a feature on the global podcast market, which is predicted to grow 30% in 2020. Podcasting, which may well prove impervious to or even benefit from the effects of the coronavirus lockdown, is becoming an increasingly multilingual affair, leading to likely demand for language services.
Profiling a niche of the industry that will play a necessary, albeit small, part in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine, Slator shone a spotlight on clinical trial translations and the complex, high-margin linguistic validation workflow.
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.