Finnish language services market study: preliminary findings

Nimdzi is excited to partner with the SKY association to perform an in-depth analysis of the language services market in Finland. This is a very interesting market to study, so we decided to publish a sneak peak of what we have found so far.

Finnish Language Service Providers (SKY)

The goal of Finnish Language Service Providers (SKY) is to increase the impact of the language services industry, both in Finland and abroad. SKY aims to develop the language industry and its activities together with their member companies and partners. They advise and provide training for their members, issue statements related to the language industry, and develop operational prerequisites of their members and of the entire language industry.

Nimdzi Insights

Nimdzi regularly partners with multinational organizations, LSPs, NGOs, and industry associations to perform special-commissioned market studies such as this ongoing study of the Finnish language services market. Those who wish to find out more about Nimdzi’s services and methodology for these studies are welcome to contact us for more information.

Nimdzi will present the full findings of the entire research on September 3 at the KIELI2018 conference organized by SKY. Key report findings will be shared with LSPs, government procurement officials, and universities. If you represent a translation and interpreting company in Finland, please support this project by filling in our questionnaire.

Research ongoing…

For those of you who are passionate about this subject, we encourage you to follow our updates and to consider attending #KIELI2018 in September. But if you just can’t wait, here are 5 interesting findings that have come from the preliminary research.

1 – LSP turnover exceeds €170 million (USD 200 million)

Our preliminary estimate for total sales by language services providers registered in Finland is 170 million euros in 2017, roughly USD 197.6 million. The figure is based on a company survey, and on the official national statistics report on all enterprises with “Translation and Interpreting” as the main activity. This also includes the revenue from subcontractors working for larger providers.

Market size is in stark contrast with neighboring countries. Compared to markets in the Baltic states, the Finnish market is approximately twice as large as Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia combined even though Finland’s population is smaller – 5.5 million inhabitants vs 6.1 million in the Baltics. In contrast to Estonia, most of the revenue in Latvia and Lithuania come from local customers. Compared to Sweden, the Finnish market is smaller and doesn’t have any local players larger than USD 20 million, whereas Sweden has produced at least four players of this size.

2 – More than €27 million in sign language (More than USD 31 million)

The Finnish government invests a significant amount into accessibility, creating a niche for Finnish Sign Language interpreting that exceeds 15 percent of the total market. This is predominantly for the population of approximately 5,000 Finnish Sign Language speakers (Ethnologue). The principal player is Evantia Group, however other sizable providers exist in this space. Some companies are switching from traditional T&I to sign language.

3 – High-market consolidation

The top 3 providers – Semantix Finland, AAC Global, and Lingsoft – are responsible for 25 percent of the total market volume. The top 50 LSPs are responsible for 52 percent of the work. The remaining 48 percent is split between 1,287 smaller Oys (or, limited companies), mostly one-person shops with an average revenue of €66,700 (USD 77, 700). That would equal a salary for one person with taxes and office costs.

4 – Growth expected at 5.5 percent a year

Official statistics put growth at 20.66 percent a year over the last three years, with stagnation over 2013/2014. A 12 percent boost in 2016 was apparently brought about by an influx of asylum seekers who contributed to the demand for interpreting services. Since this crisis is now considered to be over and the GDP growth is slowing down to 1.8-1.2 percent a year (IMF), we expect language services to continue growing at an average pace of 5.5 percent a year, depending on government spending. The total market size should exceed €200 million (USD 233 million) by the end of 2020.

5 – High per-word rates

Companies sell English <> Finnish translations at EUR 0.20-0.25 per word (USD 0.23 – 0.29), which is a higher average rate than in Germany, France, and United Kingdom for Western European languages. It is even higher than the average rate for translations in large contracts in the United States public sector and is only comparable to other Nordic countries as well as to specialist translations from Japanese to English.

In Finland, the number of employed linguists, translators, and editors is quite small – about 4,000 in total – and according to the national statistics office Tilastokeskus, it has been stable over the last four years. With the annual growth of content volumes produced each year, and with the number of human knowledge workers staying largely the same, rates will remain resilient to pressure for a few years.

To process increased volumes and maintain their vendor pool, LSPs will have to rely on increases in translation productivity due to TM and MT, as well as on students from universities in major cities like Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere.

Want more information?

Nimdzi partners get access to the full report, which includes a downloadable slide deck and a webinar link to in-depth information on the topic. The information above is only a preliminary look at the data. The research is ongoing and the full findings presented on September 3 at #KIELI2018 conference organized by SKY. If you are interested in learning more, contact SKY for details on conference registration. 

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