The demand for translators and interpreters in the UK is on the rise. Recent numbers show that the Government’s expenditure on translation and interpreting services is higher year by year.
Last year, NHS spent more than £16million on interpreters to help their patients from foreign countries communicate with healthcare specialists. Based on the information from the 63 NHS trusts, the top-requested language in 2012 was Polish (which has also been ranked as the second most commonly spoken language in the UK). The demand for Arabic and Slovak interpreters is also significant – both were classified as second.
The 20 most frequently demanded languages are (in alphabetical order): Arabic, Bengali, Czech, Farsi, French, Gorani, Kurdish, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Somali, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu, VietnameseSource: Ministry of Justice
It’s not only healthcare system that needs translators and interpreters. Last year, the Ministry of Justice signed a £42m contract for translation and interpreting services. The cost of interpreting for the UK’s Crown Courts is steadily increasing by over £1m every three years.
Interpreters also frequently work with the Councils, which spend more than £1.1m a month (£43.5 over the past three years, according to the figures provided by 352 local authorities in England) to communicate with non-English speaking residents. A considerable number of requests concerns complex child protection cases where the Councils are obliged to provide support.Kent is the highest spending authority with a three-year bill of £2.2million.While the top spending single city is Coventry, at £1.9million. The London boroughs collectively allocate a budget of £15million for translation and interpreting services.
The figures clearly illustrate the growth and future potential for the translation industry. With the free movement of workers in the EU, there will be continuous influx of non-English speaking workforce, and therefore, interpreters will be always in demand in hospitals, courts, prisons and other institutions. Although the government is planning to introduce new schemes that will help foreigners learn English, it is doubtful that they will be able to reach such proficiency to be able to understand what a judge says at a court hearing or when a doctor describes a complex treatment of their kidneys.