Translation agencies thrive on demand
With rising volumes of foreign direct investment, the demand for translation services is rising faster than ever before, market professionals say. As Ukraine’s market economy develops, the demand for translation services is not likely to decline for many years to come, and as host of the Euro-2012 football championship, more foreigners with little to no Ukrainian language skills will be coming to the country as businessmen or tourists.
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Galina Vyarvelskaya,director of 100 MOV (100 Languages)Translations Center, says that the industry is adapting to new requirements as clients now routinely “place orders for localization of Web-sites,and the translation and adaptation of marketing text
It is very difficult to estimate the number of translation agencies in Kyiv, let alone Ukraine. Agencies are now diversifying services for clients as the market rapidly develops. Market professionals agree that a client needs a wide range of services in one package – from translation to notary certification of written translations, to interpreters. So, most companies sign a multi-service agreement with a translation agency to ensure a complete range of services on demand. Clients’ requirements for the quality of translation services has been on the rise, Viktoriya Polishchuk, customer relations manager of First Kyiv Translation Agency, noted adding that the “requirements for quality translation services has always been high.” With development of the market for translation services, and more money circulating in the economy, many individuals have begun to provide translation services on a freelance basis, in their free time, or while in their current jobs, sometimes at the expense of their full time jobs, industry insiders said.
While Ukrainians’ knowledge of English has increased, market professionals say the popularity of other languages is on the rise, primarily due to the entrance of European companies into the market. Polishchuk estimates that 40 percent of her company’s translation volume is English, with another 40 percent devoted to German, French, Spanish and Italian, and 10 percent to Russian and Ukrainian. The remaining 10 percent is made up of more exotic languages.The breakdown of languages differs from agency to agency and depends on an agency’s niche and client base. For example, Galina Vyarvelskaya, director of 100 MOV (100 Languages) Translations center, over 70 percent of her business is English translation.
Competition has picked up in the translation market. Vyarvelskaya estimates that over the past five to seven years the number of translation companies in Kyiv has more than doubled. “Consequently, competition is increasing and it makes translation agencies find ways to optimize their work, occupy certain niches on the market and specialize in certain areas of translation.” She added that agencies also strive to offer their clients new ways of collaboration and cooperation, including outsourcing, “which is one of the current trends on the market.”
She notes that during the past few years, clients have gained a wider range of translation agencies to choose from, and they have got more opportunities to compare quality and prices from various providers. This allows them to pick and choose.
“Now clients are more demanding and often place their translation orders in more sophisticated ways, by running tenders between the agencies,” said Vyarvelskaya.
New services are being required of translation agencies. Vyarvelskaya said that recently it has become more popular for companies “to place orders for localization of websites, and translation and adaptation of marketing texts.”
Over the years, many international companies operating in Ukraine have settled on agencies with proven track records regardless of price.
“Now many clients prefer to work with a translation agency that has shown quality service, but which charges higher prices, rather than work with an agency that does not have such a proven reputation but offers lower prices,” said Vyarvelskaya.
With the rising popularity of foreign languages many Ukrainians are becoming freelance translators and professionalism is becoming an issue. Industry experts say many freelance translators have proper language skills but do not have the necessary translation and interpretation ability. Moreover, market professionals note that sometimes even graduates with higher education in linguistics or translation are not suitable for the job. Tatiana Potomskaya, commercial director of TRIS Translation Center, said that such “a young specialist, while looking for a job, finds out that he not only practically lacks translation skills, required on the market, but – what is a lot worse – does not have any idea about many specific peculiarities of the profession.”
Compounding the problem is the fact that the Ukrainian education system is not producing graduates with the skill and professionalism of their predecessors. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the Ukrainian education system is worsening. Second, many students want to start making money as soon as possible and often skip university classes to work.
Yet, it is an undeniable fact that having an extensive list of freelance translators is a great assistance in a translation agency’s daytoday operations since fulltime translators at an agency are simply not capable to handle all the volume of translations coming into a decent translation agency.
Overall, translation agencies are striving strive to occupy their own niche in the market and retain clientele. Nevertheless, though the competition is rising on the market every year, industry professionals are confident that any agency, whether large or small, is able to find clients and carve out their niche.
The agencies that fail do so for a lack of quality service not the lack of prospective clients. Potomskaya said that “many translation agencies cannot stand the competition either due to their lack of professionals of necessary level (in their staff) or lack of necessary resources for providing clients a package of services.”