In case you are asking why I am writing a sales pitch for a Kiwi company - I know Liz Seymour. She brought 4 of her staff to the AUSIT Biennial Conference last November, and is a very nice person to talk to. My comments are in brackets.
The Dominion Post yesterday was quoting Liz as saying that "export's success is anyone's language", and followed it with some interesting data: 60 per cent of NZTC's 1500 clients are based overseas, mainly in Europe, Asia and North America (nota bene: NOT IN AUSTRALIA). The centre has 32 staff in Wellington, marketing representatives in Auckland and Melbourne and 1000 contractors worldwide. Its annual revenue is less than $10 million; it translates into more than 70 languages and specialises in high-end technical translation, which can include localising software for exporters and translating user manuals and promotional materials for medical equipment companies.
In-demand languages include Maori and Pacific languages, French, German, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese. Now being in-demand does not mean they are expensive - apparently the most costly are Maori, Niuean and Amharic, an Ethiopian language, at $85 per 100 words translated, while French, Dutch and German are cheapest at $40 per 100 words.
Ms Seymour says translation trends follow the economic fortunes of countries.
If a country was economically strong and exporting many goods, demand for translation of its language would be strong (so we shall see a dearth in translating from English, now that the USA has capsized belly up). The addition of eastern European countries to the European Union has increased demand for translation in those languages (but they don't pay well!). New immigrants coming in, such as Somalis, also create new demand (again, no money in this - community translating is cheap, and public service will be the first to cut translation out of its budgets with recession). The centre is yet to see recession-wary firms reduce translation services. "Some companies have been asking if we can do more work. They want to boost sales and marketing efforts overseas." (Not what I am hearing from Europe).
Good luck, Liz!