UK Language Services Industry Overview & Outlook
The UK language services market is the world’s second largest market. This is according to a 2019 report from the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) in England. Globally, the entire language services industry was estimated at a value of £35 billion in 2018. This rapidly evolving business area has become increasingly competitive. Moreover, the demand for translation services continues to expand and more providers enter the marketplace.
In the UK alone, the ATC reported there are 1,600 language service providers in 2018. These LSPs a combined annual revenue of £1.35 bn. Year to year, the biggest of these companies have grown at astounding double digit rates of 20-40%. In addition, the UK national language services industry market recorded a growth average of 13% last year. ATC’s survey was also comprehensive in that they surveyed several large language service providers. Multiple medium-sized translation agencies and many small and specialist language services providers were in the survey too.
Global Trends Impacting Language Businesses
The industry’s growth explosion can be attributed to several factors, but the most impactful include:
- Increased availability and use of technology: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine translation have made translation services more efficient. However, human skills are still needed to ensure accuracy, tone and cultural appropriateness.
- Greater need for localisation: To communicate effectively across growing international audiences, content needs translation and localisation to specific target groups. Dialects, cultural differences, idiomatic expressions and local policies vary significantly between countries and regions that speak the same language.
- More global mergers & acquisitions: The new buy-to-build or purchase to grow business models has required communications and contracts across national borders and languages more than ever before.
- Upsurge in the digitalisation of content: The days of a single paper company brochure in one language no longer exist. For example, websites, social media profiles, email campaigns, e-learning, video and live streaming and even video gaming, require content creation and updating continuously in multiple languages and media formats.
- Growing demand for interpreting: Increased international collaborations, information sharing and government contracts have meant more conferences and meetings among individuals speaking multiple languages. Without professional language interpreters, these communications would be stalled or significantly impaired.
Language Industry Outlook & Challenges
The ATC survey states, “While we continue to be optimistic for 2019, we do believe growth will be more conservative at 9%. This conservative view stems from political and market instability as represented by Brexit, increased nationalism, and ongoing global competition in trade.”
In addition, the challenges below may require translation agencies and freelancers to be more creative in how they provide services to their target market clients.
- Increased competitive pressure: As the UK language services market demand grows, so do the suppliers entering the market. Consumers will have more providers to choose from at every price point and competitive differentiators will be harder to establish. Even loyal clients may “shop around”.
- Need for automation: Advanced technologies have become the norm and a basic cost of doing business for most language service providers. The ability to meet tight deadlines and overall speed of production are now key market requirements, not competitive advantages.
Renaissance Translations’ Professional Language Translation Services
Renaissance Translations keeps abreast of our industry news and incorporates best practices to provide our clients the best service possible. Moreover, our membership of the Association of Translation Companies help us greatly to improve our services. As a UK language services provider, we appreciate the loyalty of our long-term client relationships and look forward to serving new clients every year. Please contact us to learn more.