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.
A new and improved LIJI was re-launched in May 2020, using updated metrics to provide an even more meaningful picture of job market trends in the language industry, in particular given the widespread uncertainty in the current job market.
The index fell by more than two points from May to June 2020 down to 96.5. The downward trend in June was reflected across almost all indicators used for the LIJI, including the number of job postings on leading language service provider websites and on most job aggregation sites monitored by Slator. One job aggregation site showed a slight uptick in job postings, which mitigated the overall decline.
June 2020 now marks the third consecutive month in which the LIJI has fallen, with the biggest drop so far noted between April and May 2020 (15 points). The impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — which has brought business activity in certain sectors and economies to a near standstill since March 2020 — started to take effect in the month to April, and now shows tentative signs of slowing as many countries lift or relax lockdowns.
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 July and August 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, and many in the industry are hurting.
A survey by the UK ATC conducted in May 2020 revealed that 55% of LSPs surveyed — mostly small to mid-sized companies — had put their staff on the UK government’s job retention scheme (furlough), while a further 9% were considering it. Smaller LSPs appear to be in more serious trouble than many of their larger, well-capitalized rivals; read our latest coronavirus rundown on how large LSPs are navigating the pandemic.
Two pockets of the industry proving somewhat more resistant to coronavirus are media and gaming. The world’s largest game localization provider, Keywords Studios, raised GBP 100m via share placement in May 2020, and said that coronavirus had been a net positive for many of its customers.
In media entertainment, UK-based ZOO Digital said they had seen a “reassuring resumption in demand” following a “temporary softening of sales” during lockdowns, and Sweden-based Plint concluded a deal to sell a majority stake to private equity firm Priveq. The wheels of public sector language services procurement, too, are churning irregardless.
Likely more reflective of what is happening in the language industry at large, Japan’s largest LSP, Honyaku Center, said that the coronavirus-related economic slowdown in its fourth quarter (January-March 2020) had contributed to a decline in revenues, and concluded that “the outlook has remained extremely uncertain.”
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.