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ITI supports APPG checklist for protecting language skills

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) urges the Government to pursue the four essential objectives detailed in Brexit and Languages: A checklist for Government negotiators and officials – a document released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages.



ITI wholeheartedly supports this document and, in relation to the language-specific objectives it details for the Brexit process, believes the following:

1. “Guaranteeing residency status for EU nationals already living in the UK and safeguarding future recruitment of EU citizens to address the shortage of language skills.”

EU nationals providing translation and interpreting services in the UK are doing vital work. They are and feel part of the community. To maintain professional standards and to get the person with the appropriate skills and knowledge for a particular assignment, it is important that clients are not restricted in their access to qualified translators and interpreters.

In addition, a significant proportion of all the employees in the UK who are required to speak languages other than English in the course of their work are actually international recruits, which relates to the languages skills deficit in this country. So, a large-scale departure of these individuals would be likely to cause problems for UK businesses.

2. “Continuing full UK participation in the Erasmus+ programme (noting the examples of Norway and Switzerland).”

Achieving full fluency in a language is very challenging, and spending time abroad is an important part of achieving this. Lack of access to this learning experience will not be conducive to producing competent and agile translators and interpreters on a par with their peers in Europe.

3. “Committing to legislate to replicate the rights enshrined in the 2010 European Directive on the Right to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Proceedings.”

The Directive requires that translation and interpreting for suspects in criminal proceedings should be provided free of charge where necessary, be of a satisfactory quality and that a register of suitably qualified individuals is made available to legal counsel and relevant authorities. Any dilution of legislation would risk a weakening and inconsistency of standards, and possible miscarriages of justice.

4. “A post-Brexit plan in education (from primary school to post-graduate research, including apprenticeships), business and the civil service, with specific actions to ensure the UK produces sufficient linguists to meet its future requirements as a leader in global trade and on the international stage.”

Post-Brexit the need to deal with the language skills deficit will be even greater. To maintain good relationships in business we will need to be able to make connections and build rapport at all levels. It is not just about the technical language skills themselves, but also about being able to communicate effectively and get on the same wavelength as others.

There may be less willingness amongst overseas contacts to speak in English, and there may be greater complexity in dealing with regulatory issues affecting trade and business.

Global business may organise locations differently, with some headquarters relocating out of the UK, which may require greater language skills from employees going about their day-to-day tasks.

ITI chair Sarah Griffin-Mason, who represents the Institute on the APPG on Modern Languages says: “The United Kingdom has always been a vibrant trading nation, and it’s vital that we stay connected to continue successfully along this path. Respecting the languages of others and communicating in these effectively is a key way of achieving this. Fulfilling the objectives in this checklist will help to ensure positive relationships with overseas colleagues and contacts in the lead-up to Brexit and beyond.”

The full text of the APPG on Modern Languages checklist can be downloaded here.




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