Translating Europe Forum – journey from Language Enthusiasts to Young Professionals

​The end of October marked the second annual #TranslatingEurope forum at the European Commission in Brussels. The event was organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation, Rytis Martikonis, with the view to bring young people in translation together and empower them to discuss ideas, projects, experiences and new approaches in translation.


Resource Manager, Allison, outside the European Commission

​The conference began on Thursday morning when motivational speaker and coach, Joy Ogeh-Huttfield (Joy Transformation), woke everyone up with her dynamic and fun presentation about having a vision and accomplishing personal goals. She told us to think outside the box, to raise our standards and to have a purpose. What better way to inspire young translators than to help them visualise their success?

Other topics discussed at the various panel-style presentations ranged from the translation of video games and multilingual app development, to localisation at Google, but the topic that seemed to resonate most with those in attendance was the ‘translation skills gap’. Seminars such as ‘Training translators in a changing world’ and ‘A Translator’s Palette of skills for the 21st Century’ discussed this topic. The seminars considered reasons why new translators might feel undertrained after completing their Master’s degree and proposed solutions to the problem.

You might be asking yourself, ‘What is this gap, and where did it come from?’. This ‘translation skills gap’ that many new translators experience occurs when they make the transition from full-time student to starting their career as a linguist. Emerging translators often admit to feeling underprepared for life as a professional freelancer and are left to figure things out on their own after graduation, not knowing how to specialise or where to begin. This is largely due to the fact that just a few years ago, the best way to gain experience in the translation industry was to seek a position at an in-house translation department. There, new translators would hone their linguistic skills and build up experience in a specialist area. However, these coveted in-house positions are now few and far between.

So how can new translators gain the necessary skills to be successful in this industry? A common theme in the discussions following the panel presentations centred on the fact that young professionals entering the market tend not to lack the skills, but instead proper guidance within the industry. That is why traineeships and internships are playing an ever increasing role in the career development of new translators.

Here at STB, we could not agree more with this sentiment. That’s why we piloted our university programme last year, which consists of a series of presentations to MA Translation Studies students at universities around the UK about how to find work with agencies and build a mutually beneficial professional relationship. We also started a six-week internship programme, giving interns experience in resource management, project management and translation and editing. We believe that a hands-on training approach paired with receiving constructive feedback is the best way for emerging translators to take the next step in their career and gain confidence in their skills.

The language industry is evolving at a rapid pace due to technology, so we must react and draw on our resources to prepare the next generation of translators and bridge the so called ‘translation skills gap’. It’s time for the translation industry and academia to collaborate so that we can provide emerging translators with the necessary skills to be successful in this industry.


Panelist, Miguel Severner, put it best during his presentation, “Let’s train the future generation of translators for the industry we want, not the industry we have.”

The Translating Europe Forum was an inspiring event for young translators. It was not only for young people, but created by young people, allowing them to talk openly about the issues they face when starting out in the industry, and also focus on the areas that are important to them like the benefits of branding and using social media, to name a few. There was even time for attendees to reflect on why they had become translators in the first place during an ‘I’m a translator because…’ tweet session, something that everyone enjoyed and felt very positive about!

This two day conference concluded with a speech from the Director-General himself. He inspired all translators and interpreters to go forward in their career with confidence. I, for one, returned to Farnham (after a quick tour of Brussels!) feeling motivated to make positive contributions to the translation industry and to help the future generation of translators succeed! 


Allison exploring Grand-Place, Brussels

​ If you would like to read more about the event, take a look at the #TranslatingEurope hashtag or check out the our experience of the event on Storify.

Inspired by Allison’s experience at the #TranslatingEurope Forum? Why not see what translation could do for you by requesting a quote from hello@surreytranslation.co.uk?