Universitat Rovira i Virgili

João Carlos Antunes Brogueira

João Carlos Antunes Brogueira has worked as a professional translator in portugal for some 25 years, specializing in finance and localization. He also teaches in the BA and MA programs at the Catholic University of Portugal.

Signaled and tested skills in the recruitment processes of translators in Portugal

Supervisor: Dr. Anthony Pym

Research Summary

This research analyzes the methods used by translation companies and other organizations in their initial assessment of prospective translators. Little empirical evidence exists on how skills are signaled to and checked by employers in the translation industry. In theory, effective signals enable better communication and provide significant cost-savings.

Portugal is chosen here as a case study for the testing of those assumptions. This is firstly because the use of translation tests is particularly in evidence. But it is also because ample data are available on many aspects of the national context. Drawing on official sources, this study maps the translator training landscape in 2017 and identifies the skills being taught at the time. Official Portuguese and European statistics institutions are then used to trace out a profile of the translation industry in Portugal. A survey of 28 job advertisements is analyzed to establish the skills sought by employers. Based on this analysis and an EMT-based benchmark, a questionnaire survey of 14 translation companies operating in Portugal provides information on actual recruitment practices, specifically the skills that are signaled and tested. The questionnaire survey also gives information on training and skills gaps. Finally, interviews carried out in 2022 provide more detailed and diachronic insight into company practices and industry perspectives for the future.

The data collected from the higher education institutions are compared with the data from the companies to determine the extent to which translator-training institutions and translation companies are aligned. The findings indicate that universities globally prioritize the competences that translation companies also value. However, perhaps paradoxically, the results also strongly suggest that translation companies do not trust education as a signal of specific skills. Indeed, in-company testing occurs at the highest rates in the skills that carry the most weight in university programs, particularly language and production of translation, while signals with lower perceived values for the execution of translation work, such as intercultural or interpersonal competence, are the least tested by the companies.

Conference presentations 

10th EST Congress: Advancing Translation Studies, Oslo, 22/2/2022 Title: Trust in signaling systems in fully deregulated translation markets.

X AIETI Conference, Universidade do Minho - Instituto de Letras e Ciências Humanas (ILCH) and Centro de Estudos Humanísticos (CEHUM), Braga, 17/06/2022 Title: Matching skills: professional profiles vs training programs.