Court crisis over shortage of translators; experts turn to Netflix for popular foreign dramas like Money Heist, Squid Game and Lupin

  • Netflix’s viewing of foreign language programs rose more than 50%  
  • The Migration Advisory Committee stated that the UK is facing a shortage of skilled linguists
  • Translators and interpreters are essential for the safety and success of police, courts, and health services. 

A shortage of translators is a result of the growing popularity of streaming foreign dramas.

Netflix’s foreign language viewing numbers rose more than 50% in 2017 and will continue to rise due to Squid Game, a Korean survival drama and Money Heist, a Spanish crime series and Lupin, a French thriller. 

Experts say the lack of foreign-language speakers for subtitles and dubbing on these programs has led to a shortage of available talent. 

The growing popularity of foreign dramas on streaming platforms is fuelling a chronic shortage of skilled translators for court hearings and other public services. Pictured: Squid Game

A shortage of translators is a consequence of the growing popularity of streaming foreign dramas. Squid Game

Viewing figures for foreign language shows on Netflix rose by more than 50 per cent last year and are expected to increase further due to the popularity of Korean survival drama Squid Game, Spanish crime series Money Heist (pictured) and French thriller Lupin

The number of viewers for foreign languages on Netflix grew by more than 50% in the last year. They are likely to rise further because of Squid Game (pictured), Money Heist (pictured), and Lupin (pictured).

This comes at a time when the UK is facing a shortage in skilled linguists. The Migration Advisory Committee recommended that they be included on the official Skills Shortage List.

The use of interpreters and translators by the police, courts, healthcare and other services is growing at a rate of around seven per cent annually.

The Advisory Committee stated that some trials have been unable to be made available due to lack of resources.

Netflix has announced it will spend £377 million on expanding its list of Korean films and series, while Disney Plus plans to spend £24.8 billion on content in 2022, including foreign-language programmes.

Professor Jorge Diaz-Cintas, of the Centre for Translation Studies at University College London, said: ‘With the arrival of Netflix, but also newcomers like Disney Plus, it has had a knock-on effect on the number of people they need to translate these programmes. 

‘The impact has been felt at many different levels – there is a huge volume of material that needs to be translated and they need more people to do the translation.

But experts say that the rush to find foreign-language speakers to add subtitles or dubbing to these programmes means there are too few available for other work. Pictured: Lupin

Experts say the shortage of foreign-language speakers for subtitles and dubbing on these programs is a sign that there is too much work. Image: Lupin

‘Because of the volume of programmes that are produced, the translation industry desperately needs newcomers to be able to deal with the amount of work.’

Paul Wilson of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting said that poor wages were causing people to quit the sector, especially in the public sector. 

‘Translation is a highly skilled profession. Understandably, many are choosing to take work in other sectors that pay better.’