Initial results from FIT Europe’s COVID-19 Take 2 survey

Many thanks to the 1,419 language professionals from 36 European countries and 13 other countries who took the time to respond to FIT Europe’s Take 2 survey that looked at how the continuing COVID-19 crisis is impacting freelance translators and interpreters around Europe or working with the European market.

The Take 2 survey took a snapshot of how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the business of freelance translators and interpreters in the week from 17 to 24 April. The Take 1 survey presented a snapshot for the week ended 3 April.  In that initial survey 57.9% of respondents reported they had seen their business drop dramatically and 46.% said business was slow.

Tentative signs of improvement?

Almost a month on, very many freelancers who reported their business was impacted by the COVID-19 crisis continue to face major problems due to a lack of work, though the Take 2 survey reveals a drop in the number reporting their business is off a cliff (down 11.3 percentage points) and a growth in the number reporting that business is slow (up 8.2 percentage points).

Encouragingly, the other categories, business is normal / better / booming have also started to see a small growth.

The picture is still dire but these data could be the first tentative signs of businesses starting to factor life under COVID into how they operate and commission translations. Of course, it’s too early to say for sure which is why the “Take 3” survey will be out in about 3 weeks from now, so we can monitor the trend and see how things are shifting.  Follow FIT Europe on social media and keep an eye out for the next round of the survey.

Also the Take 2 survey reveals there has been a growth in the level of interaction between freelancers and their clients (whether LSCs or direct clients) compared to Take 1, with just under three quarters reporting there is contact with clients compared to just over half in the first survey. More later about what sort of interactions freelancers are seeing.

Support measures

More respondents also reported in the Take 2 survey compared to the Take 1 survey that there is national support available in their country, reflecting the extension in the support available in many countries to cover the self-employed and freelancers.

But equally, more respondents also reported needing to apply for assistance under national support packages, with a very large change in those who reported in Take 1 that they would apply for support if needed (62%) dropping to (34.3%), coupled with an almost doubling in reliance on government support (up from 18.3% in Take 1 to 34.4% in Take 2).  That, of course, ties into another key finding from the Take 1 survey that a large number of freelance translators and interpreters were in a financially precarious situation with many reporting not being able to weather the COVID-19 storm for more than 1-2 months.

Commitment to the profession

Another encouraging finding from the Take 2 survey is that freelancer translators and interpreters remain firmly committed to the profession, and in fact there was a slight increase in the number reporting they want to continue to be translators and interpreters after the crisis is over. Of course, the open comments section of the survey contain numerous caveats about the future, just like the Take 1 survey did, but these figures are indicative of a commitment to translation/interpreting as a career.

Stay tuned … more to come

In this first blog on the results of the Take 2 survey we’ve only looked at the quantitative data. Please bear with us as we analyse all the qualitative data and responses to open-ended questions.
We’ll be back with a new blog in a couple of days or an update to this one once we’ve had the chance to do the analysis. Bear with us

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