The questions below were sent to our company by the Strait Times in October 2013 to help them understand how players in the translation industry here in Singapore feel about the Translation certification examination to certify translators academically by SIM (Singapore Institute of Management). The candid replies from our CEO provided us with a totally different view and perspective from the proponents.
- Are you willing to give higher pay to those who have passed the exam? How would you determine how much to pay a translator?
The price pressure is on. We are in competition with other translation companies and freelancers. It is a double edge sword really. Most prices are determined by cost. Yet, because of the fierce competition, our selling price, has fallen since the 1990s. The narrowing profit margin is changing the way translation companies operate in so many ways.If those with the qualification insist on being paid a certain price, then perhaps, certification should be awarded to companies too so such companies can command a certain price. But then again, the government bodies have to play their part to only accept translations from certified companies.It begs the question: The exam qualifies Chinese-English translation only. How about the other languages? How does a company get certified for the other language offerings?Translation companies cannot survive on just selling local translation to the local market. There is just not enough demand to sustain business. The world. That’s our market!!
- What are some issues you see with Singapore’s translation industry? What can govt and private partners do to improve it?
Singapore is good at “post-anything” kind of work. That’s what we are good at. There is no point pretending that we have talents that will be able to change the world.We should work at defining our translation industry as one that can value-add to existing work.When our company started out in 1990s, we were receiving request for translation from overseas translation company for work originating from Singapore-based companies. Seriously!!It’s really sad because the job went half-way round the world to find itself back in Singapore and costing the requestors triple the amount or more to do it.There is just not enough trust and faith in our home-growth businesses.
As I said in the beginning, my viewed may be skewed but all I can say it that if you have money to spend, please spend it at home first. It will help home-growth companies get better and stronger.