20/20 vision is universally agreed to be a great thing, but the language industry’s vision of 2020 was, it must be said, not quite so rosy.  However, one of the sector’s largest annual surveys has predicted that, within a range of possibilities and notwithstanding the problems of last year, the industry will continue to grow significantly in the years ahead.

Annually, since 2005, CSA Research has published the findings of its Global Market Study sizing and forecasts for the language industry worldwide. For 2020, due to the pandemic, CSA Research had to work much harder to uncover the data needed to make their forecasts.  As they put it:

Look around you and note that you’re probably not sitting in a cubicle surrounded by dozens or hundreds of your colleagues. Instead, your office has been closed since March and you have grown accustomed to working at home along with a bunch of family members or flat-mates, new behaviours, and altered expectations. So have we.”

That said, they have, as usual, done sterling work. Rather than just give one forecast, with one expected outcome, they have, sensibly, provided three different scenarios, with a margin of error allowing us to see the range of potential outcomes over the years ahead. These are:

1) slow growth through 2025, reflecting doom and gloom scenarios; 2) GDP-comparable growth, closely tracking the estimates of multilateral organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, with a growth spike in 2021 followed by slower growth; and 3) our GDP+ model that reflects the language sector’s historical tendency to outperform the general economy.”

And the good news is that even in their (unlikely) worst case scenario of slow growth, the path ahead is clearly upwards.

Language Services projections

After the hiatus of 2020, there is an expectation of steady growth within the likely ranges, as their graph above shows.  This, I’m glad to say, reflects what we are seeing on the ground here at Global Connects. Even in the midst of the worst economic disruption in most of our lifetimes, we’ve kept pretty busy (at times very busy) with a wide variety of work from the private and public sectors.  With the vaccination roll-out now gathering speed, we are confident that by this time next year we will be mirroring the trajectory forecast by the CSA research.

For more details of the CSA Research study, click on this link.

Fiona Woodford, Head of Language Services, Global Connects