Wordworkers needed
Interpreters-translators in short supply in Nunavut

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 07/00) - One thing is for sure -- the three students currently enrolled in the interpreter-translator program at Nunavut Arctic College will be snapped up on graduation day.

That is, if they make it that far.

"As graduating students, they are being offered positions right away. There is no shortage of work for our graduates," said Alexina Kublu, the co-ordinator of the Iqaluit-based program.

In fact, Kublu said the number of students had decreased because one had actually been hired before finishing the program.

But, as she explained, the mad scramble for interpreters and translators stems from the drastic shortage of trained professionals in not only this area of expertise, but also across the board in Nunavut.

"There is a shortage of professional people period. Whatever government positions there are, there are shortages. We're not training people fast enough to keep up with the demand. It's not just interpreters-translators," she said.

However, with the annual Nunavut Trade Show looming on the horizon and two sessions of the legislative assembly planned for late winter, the crunch for trained interpreters and translators is being felt sharply.

Shani Watts, the court administrator for the Nunavut Court of Justice, said the shortage was preventing her from filling a third permanent full-time position for a court translator.

"So far, we haven't run into any bad effects because we're booking well in advance," said Watts, an employee of the courthouse for almost 10 years.

"We bring people in from all over and obviously that's more expensive than hiring people locally," she said.

On the more lucrative side of the fence, Duncan Cunningham, the chief executive officer of Nunavut Tusaavut Inc., an Iqaluit-based interpreter-translator corporation, said that business had skyrocketed recently.

"We're pretty busy. The demand has almost doubled since April 1," said Cunningham.

Doling out the work to subcontractors around the territory, he noted that the corporation's actual costs had not increased with the added business.