Final Evaluation of the Language Industry Initiative
The language industry is made up of three sectors: translation, language instruction and language technologies. According to The Conference Board of Canada, the language industry in Canada contributed $2.7 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004. The 2003 Action Plan for Official Languages (APOL) predicted that the demand for language services would increase noticeably over the coming years and the language industry would be unable to meet this increased demand. The purpose of the Language Industry Initiative (LII) was therefore to improve the capacity of the language industry to deliver its products and services in Canada and abroad. The LII had two key objectives:
- to help the language industry establish strategic directions, strengthen links among partners, improve its capability to respond to the increasing demand for linguistic services and products, develop the language industry and give it greater visibility; and
- to establish a sustainable succession plan following the implementation of the APOL.
The key activities of the LII were divided into two components: 1) building a Canadian language industry network, in the form of support for the Language Industry Association (AILIA); and 2) marketing and positioning, which included a contribution program for language industry companies and research and branding activities carried out by the Department.
This final evaluation of the LII covers the period from 2003 to 2007. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the results and effectiveness of the Initiative. The evaluation included four lines of evidence: in-depth interviews (n=16), a documentation review, case studies (n=4) and a survey of AILIA members as well as companies that had received contributions under the Language Industry Program (LIP) (n=109).
AILIA success in positioning itself as a national language industry association
Overall, the AILIA has not yet fully succeeded in branding itself as a national association. According to the results of the evaluation, the association has yet to attract a critical mass of members, and the satisfaction rates with AILIA services are below what is expected for this type of association. The geographic distribution of members also indicates that language companies in Western Canada, especially language schools, are underrepresented in the AILIA. The AILIA has not succeeded in achieving its recruitment objectives. The association also depends largely on public funds for its survival, and its long-term survival is not assured under its current structure. Nevertheless, the Association has made major progress in the past year.
AILIA and LII contribution in improving industry capacity
By and large, the LII has had a positive impact on the ability of the industry to meet demand. The LIP had a positive impact on language schools, which were very successful in attracting an international clientele. Translation firms and language technology companies indicated that they were also satisfied with the LIP and that they used the program to attract new clients. However, the AILIA has had a marginal impact on professional and corporate development in general. In terms of human resource capacity, a minority of companies seem to have difficulty recruiting workers.
Success of the LII in raising awareness of business opportunities
Results indicate that the industry—especially translation firms—values the market studies and reports developed by the LII. Trade fairs and missions are also appreciated, mainly by the language schools, which participate in these events in order to attract many foreign students.
LII contribution in increasing the awareness of industry products and services among potential clients in other industrial sectors in Canada and abroad
Barring a few exceptions, most of the respondents to the in-depth interviews were unsure whether the Initiative helped to increase awareness of industry products and services among potential clients in other industrial sectors in Canada and abroad. No single industry representative could confirm that the LII helped them establish contact with clients outside their traditional markets.
Contribution to creating synergies between language industry organizations
The results indicate that, generally, the LIP contributed to building links between beneficiaries and other partners, especially language training and technology companies. These links were established during trade missions, participation at trade fairs, etc. The AILIA also established links with other institutions; however, a small majority of its members believes that the association helped them establish new contacts with people in their industry.
The evaluation team examined program cost effectiveness and efficiency. A systematic comparison of the costs incurred in managing the LII contribution agreements with those of two other programs indicates that LII management costs are very high, i.e. greater than 30% of the value of contributions. This can be explained in part by the small scope of the program and the value of individual contributions. However, forecast revenues generated by projects funded by the LIP, estimated at over $6 million, tend to show that the short-term financial impact of the LIP exceeds program costs, at least those related to contribution agreements.
The Language Industry Initiative has sunset on March 31, 2008. As a result, the evaluation report does not contain any recommendations, and a management action plan from the program was not required. The management response indicated that the program concurs with the findings and conclusions of the evaluation.
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