As a champion of the value of working together, merging knowledge and celebrating positive networks between companies, schools, the public sector and civil society, Way2Global has always promoted research and development and open innovation initiatives in the local community, in collaboration with the academic world and centers for excellence in research and technology.
And with the arrival of the pandemic, we felt the need to take even more vigorous action to offer a tangible response to the pressing challenges we currently face.
Sadly, the pandemic has had serious implications for the translation community, our main stakeholder. These consequences can broadly be divided into two areas.
First of all, the crisis has heightened gender inequality issues in that it has forced many female translators to neglect, suspend or abandon their professions due to the need to look after their families, with the parental burden often falling solely on their shoulders.
This phenomenon has negatively impacted all sectors, but in the translation community – a majority female profession – it has had dramatic consequences.
Not least because this has been further exacerbated by the consequences of the rapid shift toward digital work triggered by COVID.
The digital transformation brought about by the pandemic has turned the language industry – which is 80% IT-based – on its head. For the first time, 2020 saw “augmented translation” requests, which refers to the combination of human translation services with AI tools, content enrichment and post-editing of machine translation, significantly outweigh the volume of “human” translation done.
With the trend of AI and neural networks in translation already having established itself and only looking to grow in relevance, the risks involved are clear. It could leave a large swathe – particularly older professionals – of the translation community obsolete, cutting them out of the market, while simultaneously increasing the digital mismatch which already makes it hard for young people to get into the world of work.
That’s where Way2Academy comes in – it’s a direct response to these problems, indicative of our desire to support our essential community of translators and other linguists.
To do our bit to address some of the challenges brought about by the pandemic, we started out by analyzing our internal skills and expertise before taking a step back to see how we could use our strengths to create value for our community of translators.
That’s how we came up with Way2Academy, a brand-new professional development project inspired by the principles of the Language Industry 4.0.
The fundamentals of the project are our desire to promote technological innovation and digital education in order to drive female empowerment, build a community and instill a new work ethos based on partnership and win-win relationships.
Guided by our mission as a Benefit Corporation, we want to serve as facilitators and mentors of innovation and AI to boost our social impact and contribute to attainment of the UN’s fourth Sustainable Development Goal, on quality education. And we want to do it in partnership with the worlds of academia and research, through initiatives and action spanning open technology, technology transfer and capacity building.
The ultimate aim is to ensure that the majority-female community of translators is ready to explore the new frontiers of translation, as neural machine translation (NMT) rewrites the rule book of our sector.
The Way2Academy project is designed to democratize and make AI accessible as it revolutionizes the sector with deep learning, big data and neural networks. We want to harness the power of this technology to bring about social impact and experiment with new responsible business models.
To do that, we’ve decided to adopt an agile format that aims to be inclusive by adapting to the needs of all, particularly young people and women.
Way2Academy is conceived as an open, online platform rooted in the principles of sharing information, co-production and co-planning of knowledge, participative governance and networking.
In short, Way2Academy offers granular, modular learning units split into different fields, as well as informal learning programs that provide guidance for “atypical” yet personalized career routes, where users build their development strategy with complete independence.
On top of that, for the youngest users, we’ve made things even more pragmatic by alternative theory-based training in the virtual classroom with practical training in the working environment (using an immersive remote system).
In addition to encouraging translators to re-skill and up-skill in digital disciplines and familiarize themselves with new technology to ensure they can make changes to their way of working, Way2Academy also intends to narrow the gap between supply and demand on the market and help young people make the step from school to the world of work.
Way2Academy is a hugely important project to us. It encapsulates our identity as a Benefit Corporation, as we strive to promote the digitalization and evolution of the language industry by using technological innovation as a driver for value creation, social impact and common benefit.
For Way2Global, focusing on education and training is a way of giving the community the power to build its own future – a future where understanding and being able to use new tech and AI will be fundamental as the digital age truly begins.