CORK language specialists Translit have called for better pay for interpreters in Ireland going into the New Year with this sector providing a vital service, especially with the ever-changing face of Irish society.
The interpreting and translation company, who also have offices in Limerick, work with thousands of interpreters worldwide and are looking to collaborate with the Government and Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA) to improve the sector in 2023.
Previous Census have shown almost 200 different languages are spoken across the country while Ireland has seen a shift in the number of refugees moving to the country in recent years and with the war in Ukraine nearly 60,000 Ukrainians were added to that list this year.
Translit CEO Alex Chernenko, who is a Ukraine native and former interpreter, says it’s time for a collaborative effort, especially when there is an energy, housing, and cost of living crisis.
“We know the hardships that many interpreters are facing at this time of the year and it’s important that they get renumerated for the difficult job they undertake on a day-to-day basis,” said Mr Chernenko.
“Unless you are working with a big European body, you are lucky to be making €20,000 a year as a freelance interpreter in Ireland. Interpreters who work on-site, have to travel to venues and the time travelling isn’t normally paid for. They may be gone for four or five hours but only one is a billable hour, the rest won’t be covered.
“But these people work in hospitals, they work in Garda stations, in courts, all without being recognised as important members of society. At Translit we do pay expenses because we know how crucial they are from over a decade of working alongside them.
“I am an interpreter myself, I used to speak six languages and interpreted for years before I set up Translit, and it’s amazing that things haven’t even regressed since 2009.
“We want to work with the government and ITIA to improve everything across the board but we know that this starts with pay and this needs to start now.
“People need to be encouraged to stay in the profession but young people also have to be enticed into it in order to maintain and improve the quality of interpreting across the board.” The ITIA previously raised serious concerns about the quality of interpreting in Ireland due to the lack of national standards for interpreting services. They said the lack of standards in training, accreditation, and testing of interpretation providers could have serious implications for the person for whom the interpreting was being provided.
Mr Chernenko believes that by upskilling the casual interpreters and providing better pay, it will lead to improved channels of communication between the Government and the increasing number of migrants moving to Ireland. And Translit’s new training division, Translit Pro, has already helped to upskill more than 100 community interpreters across Ireland, with the vast majority of these coming from Ukraine.
“We recognised that there was a dearth in the interpreting sector in Ireland and set up our own training division in 2020 and we are delighted with how that has grown since,” said Mr Chernenko.
“We have always stood for top pay for our interpreters and that will continue but we want to work closely with the Government and ITIA for a better collaborative effort.”