I like this time of the year as the world seems to slow down, at least a little. Christmas is a big reason for this in the U.S., but there are several other observances at this time of year where people traditionally take time to reflect and be with family.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now with political rivalries inside the U.S. and geopolitical rivalries outside. When I last looked into my crystal ball in 2020, the election was still to come along with the “post-election events” that followed.
As an economist looking ahead to 2022, I think we all know the pandemic is not over and the many rivalries around the world are not helping to bring it under control. However, I expect progress will continue to be made in vaccinations and the negative impact on economic activity will decrease. In the U.S., there will continue to be a need to support patients, whatever their vaccination status, and interpreters will need to remain careful to protect themselves and, by extension, other patients and their loved ones.
There has been a tremendous increase in remote interpreting. We certainly understand and agree that many prefer an in-person interpreter, but the organizations that pay for services are looking for bottom-line efficiency and, unless someone proves that in-person saves money, reliance on remote services will continue to grow. Many interpreters also prefer working remotely for personal safety and the increase in their billable hours.
It remains to be seen whether the Democrats will be successful in passing the soft-infrastructure bill known as Build Back Better, but I expect it will probably pass in some form at a lower funding level. The hard-infrastructure bill, which has been passed, represents a significant increase in government spending. This spending alone will create jobs, and the taxes generated will provide some support for education, healthcare, and other services as many of these jobs have significant economic multiplying potential.
The soft-infrastructure bill will further increase spending and is hoped to be transformative by improving access to education and social services. The political battles won’t end if it is signed of course, but I expect our industry to see a positive impact over the coming years.
The interpreters I expect to see benefit most are those who are certified and ready to take advantage of the coming changes. Why? We are seeing a change in recognition and respect for professional interpreters. I continuously receive anecdotal evidence that trained interpreters with little experience outperform those who are experienced but untrained.
Industry leaders continue to advocate for increased reimbursement to cover the costs of interpreting. Both political and business leaders are looking for assurances that the services delivered are of professional quality—certification is the best assurance of this goal. CCHI has over 5,700 interpreters and NBCMI has over 3,400 who are either certified or actively pursuing certification. As the number of trained and certified interpreters grows, opportunities will continue to dwindle for those who are not.
This will not be a sudden decrease, the reasons are complicated, but I’m confident that planning for the future results in better outcomes whether you are already certified or not.
And for “forgive”? This is a time to forgive others and ourselves. Living through a pandemic is hard we now know. Some have lost loved ones and some have not fully recovered. Some of us had to take time off and some of us have regrets. Let’s recognize that life is not always kind or easy and let’s also accept that we continue to learn on this journey. The new year is a new beginning and an opportunity start fresh.
For now, all of us at InterpreterEd.com wish you a safe and happy holiday season. See you next year!
Richard Antoine, MIB/MBA
Executive Director, InterpreterEd.com