“What a year it has been. Everyone, not just the language industry, has been affected by COVID. Whether we are thinking about the impact it has had on our own lives and those of our nearest and dearest or casting our thoughts more widely about the language industry community, the consequences of the pandemic have been all encompassing,” she observes.
Her reflections on how it has changed the landscape mirror many of the thoughts that have been shared by other industry opinion-leaders recently.
“I don’t want to repeat what has already been said elsewhere, but all I can say, is that we know that many were impacted but what has emerged for me at least is how resilient we have turned out to be.
“Working remotely had never been an alien concept for our freelance supply chain, but the company side has quickly had to learn to adapt to this form or working as well. In fact, we may complain that there has been a ‘virtualization’ of our industry, but, in a way, it has brought the community so much closer together.”
As an example Heike points out that the EUATC’s General Meetings, normally the preserve of the official representatives of its 24 national association members, have been made accessible to any EUATC Network member wishing to observe the proceedings on line. “This has resulted in far greater participation and has made the work of the EUATC more relevant and far less remote to individual Network members.
2020 may have had the pandemic permeating all aspects of our work and home lives, but engagement did not cease for the EUATC.
“One of the EUATC’s strategic objectives was to increase it representation in the sector. To this end we produced a toolkit for those countries where no representative association existed. This led to the formation of the Russian Association of Translation Companies which was admitted during the year, along with an existing association in Lithuania. We are in dialogue with leading players in other countries where there no translation company association exists and offering them support to form one.”
Referring back to the EUATC’s strategic objectives, broadening its reach beyond the boundaries of Europe was high on the list priorities. Heike Leinhäuser says, “I am immensely proud that we have established global strategic alliances with nine like-minded language industry umbrella groups during the last year.
“We have been able to draw on each other’s experiences, share know-how and support each other wherever possible. All of which has re-emphasised for me how collaborative we are as a sector.”
Highlighting one particular relationship that strengthened considerably during the past year, Heike Leinhäuser picks out the growing bonds between the EUATC and the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (Europe).
“We have always worked together on our annual survey of the European language industry market, but, in the past 12 months, input from FIT Europe during the dissemination of the 2020 results during our first venture into webinars, clearly demonstrated the inter-dependency of all sides of the language industry’s eco-system. More than a 1,000 people tried to register for the webinar, which featured Dr Annette Schiller, President of FIT Europe and fellow board member John O’Shea sitting alongside our own Rudy Tirry as well as representatives from the European Commission.”
The collaboration between the EUATC and FIT Europe continued during the year with the development of Guidance looking at how to manage the GDPR and personal data risks in translation, which had become necessary following a July ruling of the European Court of Justice that invalidated the EU/US Privacy Shield.
“I am pleased that this will be published early in January and, once again, FIT Europe’s John O’Shea will be one of the expert panellists joining the Guidance author, Raisa McNab, CEO of our UK member the Association of Translation Companies, who we commissioned to prepare the risk-based guidance and checklist.
“A key objective for the EUATC 2021 will also involve FIT Europe,” continues Heike. “We have agreed in principle to look at developing a European level agreement managing the relationships between the freelance community and the company sector. Such an agreement was first developed in 2013 by our Hungarian member, Proford alongside two groups representing the interests of the freelance community. Undoubtedly this national agreement will feature as the starting point for a wider European agreement as we agree a work programme to drive forward this initiative.”
Focus on broader industry networks will continue to be high on the EUATC’s priorities list in 2021. “We were pleased to have been able to confirm the appointment of two ambassadors in 2020. Dr Juanjo Arevalillo, President of our Spanish member, Asproset, took up the position of Youth Ambassador, while former EUATC President Mirko Silvestrini was appointed our EU Ambassador. Both these senior appointments are vital to ensure that we continue to nurture our relationship with the European Commission and provide support through our academic partners for the next generation of linguists coming into the profession.”
The annual European Language industry study is set to become more focussed and will also include an additional partner, Women in Localization, one of the EUATC’s new strategic partners. “Naturally, as a woman I am very proud of this newly formed bond with Women in Localization. It has been helping to develop some new areas of the language industry survey questionnaire looking at the buyer side of the industry.”
The results of the annual survey have always been a key feature of the EUATC’s annual conference, T-UPDATE. An early decision was taken last February to pull the plug on the conference – another casualty of the pandemic – and to the pause as an opportunity to completely rethink the format.
“The annual conference will be going entirely on line from 15thto 16thApril and it is hoped that we will be linking up with our global strategic partners to deliver a virtual event across a number of time zone. The results and analysis of the annual survey will feature as part of the totally revamped T-UPDATE 21 Virtual.”
Concluding Heike Leinhäuser said: “The past twelve months have made us all re-evaluate our priorities and brought into sharp focus what really is important. The EUATC goes into the New Year with a greater sense of purpose to support language companies, their freelance suppliers and the next generation coming into the industry.”