As the number of multinational businesses in Vietnam increases, so too does the demand for skilled interpreters. At the moment, however, this demand is not being met.
This shortage of interpreters and its accompanying issues were examined by participants at a recent roundtable discussion organised by RMIT Vietnam and the Saigon Times Group.
Mr Tran Anh Tuan – Deputy Director of the HCMC Centre for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information, under the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs – said the demand for interpreters has risen as more foreign enterprises have established themselves in Vietnam and as more domestic companies have invested abroad.
“Although many universities have specialised in language programs, industry demand for skilled interpreters and translator remains high,” Mr Tuan said in his presentation.
Finding interpreters who are fluent in Asian languages is a particular concern, added Ms Vo Thi Bich Thuy, Head of Recruitment and Consulting Services of ManpowerGroup, a provider of workforce solutions.
“There is a huge demand from international electronic and manufacturing companies for interpreters and translators, especially those who are fluent in Japanese, Korean and Chinese languages,” Ms Thuy said.
“In order to meet this demand, workforce training should align with industry needs. There should be training in foreign languages and soft skills to prepare students for the real world.”
For RMIT Vietnam’s Associate Professor Duong Thi Hoang Oanh, a good interpreter or translator needs soft skills in addition to language skills.
“In order to become a skilled interpreter or translator, professionals should possess good note-taking skills, be proactive, and be able to express themselves clearly – in addition to being excellent at foreign languages,” she said.
Mr Jake Heinrich, Head of RMIT Vietnam’s School of Languages & English, commented that many opportunities lie ahead for language specialists, especially as Vietnam integrates further into the global economy.
“The signing of international trade agreement opens up significant opportunities for language specialists to work in specialised areas,” Mr Heinrich said.
“With RMIT Vietnam’s new Bachelor of Languages, students can specialise in Japanese Language or Translating and Interpreting, or both. Both of these are high growth fields in Vietnam and internationally, as language skills coupled with cultural awareness and specialised industry knowledge are highly sought after in a range of multinational organisations.”
The seminar participants also touched on potential technological threats for interpreters such as Google Translate and last month’s launch of Pixel Buds, smart earbuds which are capable of translating up to 40 languages. These translation tools can’t compare to skilled interpreters and translators, most speakers agreed.
The event, held in Ho Chi Minh City on 1 November, attracted around 130 attendants including government officers, industry representatives, academics, and students from RMIT Vietnam and other universities.
Story: Le Mong Thuy