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The SwissGlobal Prize: a major statement in favour of promoting young talent

The time is nearly upon us: on 29 September, the SwissGlobal Prize for the best final thesis in the BA for Applied Languages at ZHAW will be awarded. There is CHF 2500 in prize money on offer, but this is above all about making a statement in favour of promoting young talent.

The language industry needs fresh talent

Young professionals with relevant skills and a thirst for innovative solutions are indispensable for a successful market economy. This is particularly true of the language industry. Agility and the ability to adapt quickly to new technologies are important qualities that are exemplified by the students at ZHAW and that will accompany them throughout their lives.

We spoke with Dr Montero Muñoz. She is the joint head of the BA in Applied Languages degree programme and explained why the SwissGlobal Prize is much more than just a prize, and how other language services providers can commit even more to promoting young talent.

Dr Montero Muñoz, what do you think the SwissGlobal Prize means in terms of promoting young talent? And why are collaborations like this essential for ZHAW?

For us as a university, the employability of our students is our top priority. Having hands-on, application-orientated teaching is therefore of enormous importance. The fact that such a renowned company as SwissGlobal Language Services AG awards a prize for the best bachelor thesis is equally an incentive for our students and a beautiful form of recognition of the students’ work from the free market.

The recognition of a final thesis by SwissGlobal furthermore shows that our students are working on issues that are relevant and of interest to society and the economy, which reflects our university’s educational goals.

We also feel it is very important to collaborate in this and other ways with partners in the language industry, since this gives us direct insight into the requirements and trends of the labour market and means we can make sure our students are as well-prepared for that labour market as possible.

We recently adjusted our curriculum to make sure that our students gain an even more comprehensive command of the skills they will need in order to work in the language industry.

Exchanges between potential future employers and us as an educational information are therefore enormously important. The SwissGlobal Prize bears witness to this. We are delighted that SwissGlobal is taking an interest in our students’ work and is distinguishing a best bachelor’s thesis.

In your opinion, what else can LSPs do to help graduates who are looking to begin their careers in the language industry?

It is critical for our students to be able to get a taste of professional experience at an early stage. We therefore give them the opportunity to spend their fifth term abroad at a foreign university or to carry out a work placement in Switzerland or abroad. Collaborating with industry partners domestically and abroad is thus hugely important for us.

When they complete their studies, our alumni have excellent knowledge of both their foreign languages and their base language, as well as having skills in their chosen degree of depth in multilingual communication, multimodal communication, technical communication and information design. LSPs are major employers for our graduates and support our students with attractive professional and career opportunities that allow them to apply, deepen and broaden their expertise.

SwissGlobal is currently working on its own MT solution and generally sees itself as an innovation driver. What place do technological solutions like MT, CAT tools and post-editing have in the Applied Languages course? And which skills does ZHAW view as necessary for graduates from the Applied Languages course?

Language technology plays a significant role in our teaching. It is essential that our students learn how to use it and to recognise the benefits of MT, but also to recognise its limits. We teach our students to use MT and CAT tools. Post-editing is increasingly gaining in importance, which is also being reflected in our teaching.

The job description of the multilingual communicator has changed radically over the past few years owing to the rapid pace of technological developments and will continue to do so in the future. In order to remain competitive and hold their own in the future labour market, it is therefore crucial that our students know not only how to apply language technology but also how it works.

At the Institute, we are studying the way languages and technology interact through our professorship in man-machine communication.

The results obtained from this research are incorporated into our teaching, so that our students can not only keep pace with technological developments but can also contribute to them and help shape them.

Are you excited to find out who will end up winning the SwissGlobal Prize? Follow ZHAW Applied Linguistics and SwissGlobal Language Services AG on LinkedIn or stay on the ball thanks to our SwissGlobal blog.

Are you interested in taking a degree in Applied Languages yourself? Click here to find out everything about the courses offered by ZHAW in the linguistics field.