Joseph Lambert (Lecturer in Translation Studies at Cardiff University) and Callum Walker (Lecturer in Translation Technology at the University of Leeds) join SlatorPod to talk about their paper Because We’re Worth It: Disentangling freelance translation, status, and rate-setting in the United Kingdom.
Joseph discusses the top three challenges for translators when it comes to pricing their services, including knowing how to calculate rates, client or LSP resistance to rate suggestions, and being willing to talk about rates in general. Callum shares the motivation behind writing the paper and how they aim to bridge the gap between academia and industry when it comes to pricing.
The duo talk about the lack of recognition of translation as a profession that requires a high degree of specialization and expertise — one of the central issues holding prices down. They address the difference in pay between working as a freelance translator for an LSPs versus acting independently and engaging directly with clients.
Joseph and Callum then unpack the positive and negative impact that machine translation and translation marketplaces have made on freelance translators over the past two decades. They reflect on the growing demand from translators for hourly pricing versus the per-word model, especially when it comes to post-editing.
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They agree with the theory that as MT increases in quality, the level of expertise required of a professional linguist becomes ever higher and this should be reflected in teaching. Callum outlines the Leed’s approach to educating students through simulated projects to practice their negotiating skills.
The pod rounds off with advice for graduate students entering the industry — from networking and talking about rates to enhancing professional development with language and business skills.
Florian: Today we are going to talk about rate-setting for freelance translators, so you recently published an amazing 30-page report titled, “Because We’re Worth it” and then the subtitle is “disentangling freelance translation status and rate-setting in the United Kingdom”. Before we dive into this super interesting topic, please tell us a bit more about your background, your decision to work in translation studies, and also your history as freelance translators.
Joseph: I originally did a BA in French and Italian and I loved doing translation, but at the end of my BA I did not really know what translation involves that much, so I went back as many people do and I did an MA in translation studies with the intention of working as a freelancer. I did go on to work as a freelancer from French and Italian to English mainly in sports translation and doing a bit of social media as well. When I did my MA, I fell in love with Translation Studies, the academic discipline, so a few years after starting as a freelancer, I had the opportunity to do my PhD in Translation Studies. Since then, I have gradually phased out my actual translation work and gone into the academic side of teaching translation at UK universities, so I love both the practical side and the theoretical side. Unfortunately, I do relatively little actual translating now, but in terms of research, my specialism is Translation Ethics. Along with Callum, I am very interested in what we are calling Translation Industry Studies now, so trying to foreground that link between how translation actually happens and what we are talking about in universities, so the theory and the practice.
Callum: I came out of a languages degree studying French and Russian and went into freelancing back in 2009. I used to specialize predominantly in legal and business translation and I set up a small translation business, which I still run on a very small level to this day. I took an interest in the discipline and started my academic journey in 2012 part-time alongside my freelance work. I did my PhD. It was more of a blue skies project, I guess you might call it, but now I have started to turn my attention back to the somewhat industry-focused research. Translation Industry Studies, as Joseph just said, and in particular project management and elements of the economics of translation.
Florian: What are the top three challenges for translators when it comes to pricing their services?
Joseph: It is a difficult question to answer. First of all, knowing what to charge is a very big challenge, so you can find some guidance on things like ProZ relatively easily. Say, this is the typical rate in this language, in this domain, but how much you should charge on a case-by-case basis and based on your own personal situation is very tricky to figure out. Factors such as the domain you are working in, the deadlines that you are working to, and text format. All these factors feed into it, and knowing how to calculate these rates is a big challenge for translators. The second, this is another big one, is client or LSP resistance to the rates that you are asking for as well. Clients are often presented with this image of machine translation that looks great and so it is quite hard to justify the need for professional translation. They do not often understand what goes into a professional translation as well and we have all seen those LSP emails, dear linguist, what is your best rate? There is this downward pressure. On that side as well, there is a blockage in terms of charging the rates that you want to or that you deserve potentially. The final one that is a big challenge is actually being willing to talk about rates. It is still a massive taboo in so many places. In the UK we do not talk about money very much and that is definitely true in the translation industry. There was a survey of freelance translators in the UK a couple of years ago by Inbox Translation and this was one of the big sources behind our research It is something that we are still working on a little bit and one of the final questions was “what is one thing that would improve your quality as a freelance translator” and one of the comments was “I want to know what other translators charge so I have more confidence to push for a pay rise with my clients”. That is indicative of this inability to talk about these things, so they would be the three challenges for me.
Florian: Let us talk about the piece of research you published which triggered this discussion, “Because We’re Worth It”. What was the motivation to write this piece of research? Who do you think is your primary audience? Tell us a little bit about the genesis of the paper.
Callum: It is an academic article that we have just published in the journal translation space. Our aim was to try and explore pricing in the translation industry and try and look at income for translators and try to understand why it is so problematic for a lot of freelancers and especially those that are quite new to the profession. It involved trying to explore the status quo, trying to look at why things are the way that they are, and then unpacking the factors that contribute to this situation for many freelancers and how they intersect with one another. It is aimed at an academic audience in the sense that it is published in an academic journal. There is a palpable irony here, which we do touch upon briefly in the article, that we are writing this in an academic forum to try and effect change in the industry, so there is a bit of tension. What we are trying to do, and this podcast is a perfect example of this, is trying to use it as a springboard to engage better with the industry, to bridge those gaps between academia and industry. We hope that these things will resonate with practicing translators. Anyone that wants to read the article, do get in touch with us and we are happy to share it.
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Joseph: I would just add that one of the motivations was a shared interest in translation rates based on our experiences as freelancers, but also this growing interest based on our teaching in universities where students are always asking about translation rates. How much should I charge? How much can I charge as well? Unfortunately, as we found out a lot of that information is not provided either in courses or in existing literature and unfortunately, all the answers that are out there, are not always what the students want to hear as well. That is why this question of “how can we change the situation” came to the forefront as well.
Florian: What I found interesting and also tough to swallow was that you mentioned the low status of the translation profession. It is one of the central issues holding prices down. How do you see that status issue generally? What do you think could be done to change this? Why do you think you perceive it or one perceives it as a low-status profession?
Callum: This is something that unfortunately is going to be very hard to change, especially when we are dealing with economic forces. For me, one of the big factors here is education and unfortunately, this is a generalization, of course, there are a lot of people that simply misunderstand what translation is. They misunderstand the complexity of translation and that includes what qualities and competencies it actually takes to be a so-called good translator and how much actual learning and experience goes into making it to that kind of level. LSPs can do something here to protect translators. They can try to help the clients understand that translation is not just a production line, there is a lot of expertise, and there is a lot of knowledge that goes into delivering a translation service. When you buy translation services it is not just about a tangible product. It is a service, it is a consultancy, it is advice on the type of translation you might need when translation is or is not appropriate even, and plenty of other things that you might not have even considered. As many clients see it as something very tangible, “here is my translation, now I have got it as a document or a piece of paper”, this oversimplifies what the industry does. This in turn affects the status of these professionals and this is a bit of a vicious cycle. If you have low status, it tends to give rise to lower rates. If you charge lower rates, it then reinforces the low status.
Joseph: There are a couple of points we could add. Obviously, it is such a complex area. This question of regulation as well, or the lack thereof. Basically, if you say you are a translator in the UK, you are a translator, so that feeds into this question of low status. Another interesting idea that we have come across and that we have explored a little bit was the idea of translators not being very business-minded or business-like. They have been criticized for being economically unambitious by some scholars and it is a bit of a generalization. I know some translators who are very switched on on that side of things, but at the same time, I do know freelancers who just want to get on with their creative work and they are not willing, able, or bothered about negotiating on that side. That is potentially another factor, although it sits below the things that Callum was talking about before.
Florian: Translators have to do a lot of things. They have to be subject matter or domain experts, they have to be linguists and language experts, and then they have to be solopreneurs basically. It is asking a lot which should help elevate the status if you succeed on all these metrics. How much could you draw on your personal experience as freelancers or doing freelance work when it comes to rate-setting, and did that inform your article?
Joseph: Absolutely. When working as a freelancer, rates were pretty much a constant battle. A lot of the time there was very little room to negotiate with rates. The agency or the client will say, “this is what we are offering, you either accept it or you leave it” and if you leave it often there will be someone else willing to take it as well. Particularly when you are starting out as a translator as well, you think you have got this choice between either I do not work or I work for less than I want to. It becomes a complex area and that is something that really sat behind why we are interested in this area, personal experience, and the feedback that we are getting from other emerging translators as well.
Callum: They are regularly asked to work at low or lower rates than what I would have wanted to charge and frequently being forced into negotiations on various levels and this is something we try to prepare our students for as well. We have simulated projects where we get them to negotiate rates. We challenge them as pretend clients to practice their negotiation skills, but touching upon something Joseph just said, it is a prisoner’s dilemma in some ways. Even if you reject the low rates, there will be someone who will accept it and that is no criticism of them necessarily. Unfortunately, as a freelancer, it is quite a precarious profession, so sometimes people just have to accept those rates. If you have gone a week, two weeks, or three weeks with no work at all, a big job comes in with a lower rate, who are we to blame for taking it on because you just cannot go for long periods with no work at all? The problem though is that this creates the impression that the rate is then acceptable and then this perpetuates itself, so it is a very vicious cycle that is very hard to break.
Florian: Have you looked into the differences between working with direct end clients versus working with language service providers, and what was the conclusion there?
Joseph: There is a difference in rates, so it was 20 to 30% higher with direct clients in my experience and this seems to be something that is supported by the relatively few statistics that are out there. Going back to that Inbox Translation survey that I mentioned earlier, there was a figure that we cited in the paper saying that 80% of translators, there were about 1500 freelancers who worked with LSPs, cited low rates of pay as the leading challenge. Whereas respondents who worked with direct clients said that higher rates of pay were a key benefit. There seems to be this clear demarcation between what the two sides, direct client versus LSP or agency, are offering.
Callum: The counterpoint I would like to point out here is that we are very keen not to paint the LSPs as the bad guys here because LSPs play an important role in the industry and it is never our intention to try and undermine that. It is logical to understand why there has to be a margin there because obviously, they are an intermediary, so they have costs of their own. They do lots of things for the freelancers as well, so they invest a lot of money in marketing so that the freelancers do not have to. They have to cover those costs somehow. They bear the financial and other risks of very complicated projects so that freelancers do not have to. They have large overheads, including project manager wages in most cases and also they do some of that consultancy work on behalf of freelancers so that the freelancers can focus on doing what they do best. A good LSP is worth its weight and gold. There are a very tiny number that are unfortunately exploitative. Fortunately, I would like to think that is quite a small number, but they do exist.
Florian: Typically in my personal experience, they do not succeed long-term because word gets around. Freelancers will not work with these guys again. They pay late, they do not pay, et cetera, pay low rates. Hopefully, the market would take care of that as well from the translator side.
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Joseph: You would hope so and I think there was an article just a couple of days ago in the Guardian about the rates being paid to interpreters by a company based in Europe and so these cases are getting publicized sometimes. Some of them do slip through the net, but hopefully, there is a bit more pushback. This is something we touched upon in the article a little bit. There are certain cases where we are seeing LSPs championing translators and say, that is not enough money or we need to raise our prices as well, so fingers crossed there is some hope out there. It is not all doom and gloom. I hope we are not painting a very negative picture of things so far.
Callum: Just to echo the point as well about the self-regulatory nature of the market in that the translation profession is quite a nice community. As you said, the word does get around. Some of the unscrupulous practices are weeded out quite quickly because there are things like The Blue Board on ProZ and other forums where bad practices are shared very quickly and they cannot continue to exist. There is a good experience of these sorts of things being shut down, so to speak.
Florian: Now looking back a couple of decades, let us take the long arc of history here. What were some of the key disruptors to the translation profession that freelancers had to contend with over the past couple of decades that you came across in your paper?
Callum: There is a point of terminology. The word disruptor often has bad press. It has a positive connotation as well as a negative. Most obviously everyone will say technology is one of the biggest things that has changed, so machine translation has developed at a rapid pace. Neural machine translation is reaching the stage where it is achieving functional quality in a lot of domains, and a lot of language pairs. It is free and it is instant in using the publicly available engines, at least. To the general user, without the expert knowledge that a translator has, it is now starting to appear as if it is competing with professional translation. This then leads to some of the effects for working conditions here where we are seeing practices such as post-editing, which is now very common. This does have an impact on income and it also has an impact on job satisfaction. Another thing that is just starting to be picked up in the literature in Translation Studies and in industry publications is the role of the platform economy, so uberization as you might call it. This is another forum where rates are starting to see competition and there are different forms of procurement starting to take place. The other effect that this is having is it is now starting to blur lines between what you might call the bulk market and the premium markets, so all of this collectively is having lots of different effects. Some of them are very good, some are very beneficial. Indeed some of the software we now work with is fantastic and it has come on leaps and bounds, but then again, there are some negative effects.
Florian: Now let us talk about post-editing and pricing. We just talked about these disruptors and post-editing, so have you also seen a shift towards hourly pricing? Has that come up in your research? It is still hard to price post-editing by words, so we should probably move towards more hourly pricing. What is your view on that?
Joseph: Absolutely. Over the last few years I have seen that mentioned more and more, not just in the context of post-editing, but translators saying we should be moving to hourly models. It is a common theme to hear people say that post-editing could go from a smooth, easy process to being horrendous and it would have been easier or quicker to do it from scratch rather than editing. That shows that the per-word rate is an imperfect way to calculate what is going on. Linked to that, in Translation Studies literature, there are quite a lot of voices saying that the rise of post-editing, which is massive now, is leading to lower rates and so maybe the shift in pricing model could help to combat that as well. There is good cause to say that it would be a positive move for the industry.
Callum: I would echo that as well. There has been a sustained push certainly on the translator side for hourly rates. On a slightly related topic, I had an interesting discussion with my students about this recently, which helped to highlight to me how poor per-word rates can be a proxy for time. In one of our simulated projects, the students priced up a project and they were charging different hourly rates for different services, so revision had one rate and proofreading had a different hourly rate. I said to them, why have you done this? They said it is because proofreading is quicker and it is not as complicated. That issue aside, I said to them, no, because an hour of your time is worth an hour of your time. It does not matter what you are doing, it could be translating, it could be provision, it could be proofreading. It is still an hour of your time and this is the problem that the per-word rates show. They are a poor proxy for time. We are supposed to work out how much we can do within a day, divide by the number of hours, et cetera, and you end up with a per-word rate, effectively. When you have the different levels of post-editing, so light and full, and then you have all these other services like revision, review, and proofreading, it just does not work. Per word does not work because it is very contingent upon what is actually put in front of you. In terms of whether this is achievable, there is going to be a lot of pushback because it is very convenient to use per-word rates. It is very hard to predict how many hours something will take, so it would have to completely change the way that we price our projects.
Florian: Some players are a little further along that road than others, depending on the type of texts that they do. It is hard because clients want to have that control. They know in advance how much something is going to cost. Let me run a theory that we have here at Slator past you. Machine translation gets better and better. I am a native German speaker. I keep checking in on DeepL and sometimes there are some nice old-school German words DeepL is using here and it does not sound even translationese anymore. Of course, over five or six paragraphs, there are still a number of issues with a text, but as it becomes ever more high quality, we argue that the expertise required of a professional linguist to add value to that high-quality translation becomes ever higher too. The demands are higher and higher. Eventually, you could argue that rates should reflect that in terms of, if you bring that domain expertise, linguistic expertise and you are willing to work as a post-editor, essentially, you can command quite a high rate. What are your thoughts on that? That is a theory I have been thinking about for the past couple of years.
Joseph: I like this theory and it is undeniable that MT quality is up there. I work in French primarily as well and it is good. That is undeniable. I definitely follow this idea of higher quality from the MT requires higher expertise as well. I know this from working with students because you see that there is a false sense of security that comes from seeing this seemingly excellent MT output and it requires a different kind of competence. It is not just getting something that looks right. It is getting something that is actually functioning in the way that it should and it requires a different kind of competence on their part to spot how and where they need to make the changes. I would like to think that it will result in higher rates eventually. That would be nice. That is what we are doing all this for. That is what the end goal is. These questions of status, this question of perceptions of translation, and the inability of translators to signal how much value they are adding, at least now, are still very tricky to overcome, but I love the theory.
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Callum: I would say there has to be a corresponding improvement in the understanding of translation. I come back to this client’s education side of things. As machine translation improves, translation starts to risk appearing easier, so to speak, as a job, so really it is about clarifying the distinction between the bulk market and the premium market. If you want a cheap, fast, vaguely functional translation, and there are no high stakes involved, by all means, go down this route. If there are high stakes involved or quality is very important, it is very public-facing and it reflects on your image as a company, then you have to go down the professional route. MT is fit for purpose in some contexts, but not in others, so you need increasingly skilled translators to not only spot those problems during post-editing, for example but increasingly specialized translators in specialist domains as well. In theory, yes, that should command higher rates. Unfortunately, when we are dealing with market forces, it is a question of whether the market is willing to pay for those rates. It is a difficult question.
Florian: 20 years ago, when I did translation studies, MT was nowhere. There was no question that we would obviously be able to improve on machine translation. How is it now when you are teaching your students, is it immediate? Can they immediately improve on almost any machine translation output by just looking at it? Or are there certain areas where they would struggle if you do blind testing or anything like that?
Joseph: At the undergraduate level when they are still learning the languages, I have a lot of students who will put their unwavering faith in machine translation, unfortunately. At the postgraduate level, they tend to be a bit warier and they are very good. I had a student yesterday working in Chinese and English who spotted a published translation that they think has been machine translated because of certain subtle cues in there, so that is good to see. For more common language pairs, for certain domains as well, it is becoming trickier. As you said, even 10 years ago, machine translation was comical. It is something we laughed about and now it is good. In the classroom, there is always that question of whether we are going to be replaced. We have this difficult balancing act of reassuring students, but being realistic about the industry as well. It is here to stay. It is getting better. It is going to keep improving and it is impacted upon the way that we work already, and that is not going to stop. We just need to think about how we engage with it.
Callum: It is exactly the same sorts of conversations we have as well. Going back to the specifics of things that you see students doing, what I have started to recognize is that students are starting to pick up on the types of mistakes it will make. They almost build up for their own language pair, for those that are doing multiple language pairs, it is more obvious. They can almost say, I am working from Japanese into English now, it is going to make these sorts of errors, so they can be on the lookout for those. Then when they switch into their second language pair, Spanish into English, it makes a totally different set of errors. It is training them in a very different way. The core skill is still there in that it is based on traditional translation, but the way that it manifests itself is quite interesting. The way that they implement this in the classroom, they are very clearly and very easily adapting to this.
Florian: The pay and rate discussion. Is this something that is front and center of your course at university? Or is it something that in the final semester, the final couple of months before graduation becomes a quick afternoon topic? How do you educate your students on that and at what point does it become a relevant discussion?
Callum: One of the main ways we do this at Leeds, for example, is through what you might call simulated translation bureau-type modules. More and more programs are bringing these in to make sure that the classrooms have a realistic experience. You have a certain number as project managers, a certain number as the vendors and you give them texts and they work on it. You as the lecturer are the client and you can be demanding with them and say, no, we have got this budget, can you fit this budget? It simulates the negotiation. It simulates some of the awkward questions that a client might ask and we purposely try to be awkward as well to do this. The reason why is because it is a risk-free environment so they can make mistakes, they can not deliver the project, they can completely miss chunks of text and we have these debrief sessions where we go through, we talk about rates, we talk about things that could have been done better and we encourage them to do the research and to negotiate on that front.
Joseph: You are very good at Leeds and based on my experience, we need to talk about rates more. I try to put it in all my classes, so it is always there and in the things I teach. When I am teaching ethics, we will talk about the rates of price setting, for instance, it is not just in practical modules. In our paper we do a bit of a literature review of books and textbook articles that are talking about rates and the main takeaway that we got is that it is difficult to find concrete information there, so there needs to be more. It is understandable to a degree. It is very difficult to make blanket statements and the classic translator’s answer, “it depends”, applies nicely in the case of rates. It is such an important area. It is one that we need to tackle more and embed more deeply within the university system, so the very future of the translation industry depends on us having these conversations now. It is also worth noticing, at this point, that within the universities we are only reaching a very small proportion of budding translators as well. I cannot remember what the figures are, but around 25% of translators have a degree in translation. That could be way off by the way. The point is that we are not reaching everyone, so this needs to happen on a different level. We need to do more within the universities, undoubtedly. We can influence practices among translators. That is what we are aiming to do. We can have conversations with industry bodies like you. We can talk to associations as well, but we are not reaching everyone, so it needs to go further to elicit this change.
Callum: One final thing I would add as well, is even though we would have these conversations in classes, it is still important as well that we do not undermine the importance of independent research into rates because the students will need to negotiate this themselves. They need to listen to the market, the specific niche that they are in, the specific domain, and the specific language pair, in a specific country from which they operate. It is a balancing act between giving them an idea of what is realistic, but also not telling them you should charge X per word. It is a delicate balance.
Florian: This is so true. We struggle with this at Slator. We have been struggling with this ever since we went live in 2015. Our first valiant attempt was we went to the US government procurement agency, we downloaded literally all of the contracts that they had with the LSPs and then we did a blended average rate across all of the languages and all of the combinations. I think back in the day it was 21 cents per word and then you could argue for the freelancer, it would have been around 11, 12, or 13 if you look at the margins that the LSPs would make. We got a lot of pushback on that piece of research. No, you cannot blend the languages and there is a special case here and a special case there. We could say it is 10 cents but then somebody comes around and says, it is a legal piece that takes twice the time and so you do not do anybody a favor if you just throw out this is the rate and you should charge that because you might be completely uncompetitive with that rate in one scenario and way too low in another one. Giving the tools to assess the situation is probably more useful for everybody.
Callum: The other factor as well is that in a lot of jurisdictions price fixing is illegal, so any concerted effort to say we should all charge a minimum of X is not allowed, so that is the other problem of saying you should be charging X.
Joseph: The ATA got in trouble a while ago and I think the ITI have said they are not going near rates to the same degree because of price fixing concerns, so we have got to be careful with that as well. Telling the students this is all well and good until we get in legal trouble with them.
Florian: The primary focus of your research paper was on the UK, but it is very broadly applicable. Do you feel there are certain parts that you would caution are mostly around the UK? Or do you feel everything that you wrote is broadly applicable?
Callum: We focused on the UK predominantly because it is what we know best. That is the market we have operated in. It is the market we now teach towards, I suppose. We also do know from our research that a lot of countries elsewhere, Denmark and Finland come to mind, the situation is or at least it seems better. There seems to be better protection for the professionals and regulation or quasi-regulation exists. Even in mainland Europe and the US, I believe, sworn translators and sworn interpreters are a protected class of professionals. There are barriers to entry. In the UK, there are minimal barriers. In the UK, you can basically say, I am a translator and you can start working as a translator, so that is one of the reasons for the UK focus.
Joseph: That is very true and it was very sensible of us to stick to the UK because it is what we know best. At the same time from conversations we have had with colleagues in universities, translators, students, and with people from countries all around the world, we are seeing that there are a number of shared experiences there. The arguments that we make are definitely not exclusive to the UK and this marginal status, these challenges, and these concerns in terms of payment do extend well beyond the UK. These disruptive trends that we mentioned as well, like the changing technology, are causing the same pressures everywhere. It is something that we think applies a bit more widely, but there are distinct challenges that pop up in all these cases and so we cannot just make blanket statements with any confidence there. Hopefully, there are insights that other people can take and maybe this research could be extended in other geographic contexts as well.
Florian: What piece of advice are you giving to your graduate students entering the industry? We do not have to make this hypothetical. This is a very concrete question.
Callum: We had a bit of a brainstorm on this and again, came up with fairly similar answers. The first one that we both definitely agreed on was networking. This is important because to be completely honest, freelance translation can be a lonely enterprise at times and so that social element is very important. I recently went to the ITI conference in Brighton and it was a fantastic event. Several hundred people attended, great talks, and got to meet lots of interesting people, but from a business perspective, word of mouth is a good source of work. One week your friend is working in the same language pair, in the same domain, he or she might not be available, but he or she says to the LSP, I know someone, let me put you in touch, and so on. These sorts of connections are good and especially if you network with more experienced translators, the question of rates is something you can discuss with them, as well as other more general questions relating to professional practices.
Joseph: We have said translation is so diverse, all the different subject areas, the different languages, different contexts that we are working in and this is another reason that networking is so important because you can find people who have gone through similar challenges to you, who are working in similar domains as well. In translator education, it has to be more holistic. We cannot necessarily speak to every single niche, so networking is important there. We need to talk about rates more. That is something that I say to students in this context. Let us try and break the taboo and have these discussions. Obviously, avoid price fixing. We do not want to go down that road, but we need to discuss these issues more. To make this change happen there needs to be open conversations there.
Callum: We amalgamated a few things into this. Do not stop learning, so CPD is obviously important and especially if you go join associations, CPD is something that they champion on a regular basis. Keep up with language skills, your domain, business skills even, additional qualifications, diplomas, reading in the relevant languages, in the relevant domains. The other thing to bear in mind is that staying in touch with these developments is a way to protect yourself. Just because there is work there today, do not assume that you will be safe tomorrow. I know that has a slightly negative tone to it but it is a fast-changing industry and you basically need to make sure that you are on top of your game all the time.