SCIC update: Recruitment policy for new interpreters
On 3 May 2013, the AIIC professional delegation met with SCIC to discuss their policy for hiring new interpreters, also known as 'La relève'
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In the discussions we drew on the various texts published by the Administration and on the many posts by colleagues on the ACI recruitment forum on SCICNet. We highlighted what we feel are the most relevant numbers and statistics, and which best illustrate the decisions taken:
- changes in staff numbers, past and projected, including permanent staff and ACI
- percentage of total contracts reserved for ACI on the Newcomers’ Facility
- percentage of total contracts for ACI in the beginners’ category.*
We again called for more information and openness, especially via the Heads of Language Units, with booth meetings when warranted by specific situations, and information summaries on the overall situation in SCIC provided at regular intervals (annually, for instance).
On these two points, the Administration confirmed that this had been its policy since launching the Newcomers’ Facility, and particularly in recent weeks, as debate got under way. The Administration did not oppose the idea of further stepping up this internal communications policy.
We went on to emphasise, drawing on figures in a recent mailing, that in the EN booth (though similar situations apply or have applied in other booths), the pace of accreditation and access to the Newcomers’ Facility has been remarkably sustained in the past three years, with all the problems this entails when demand drops as it has done this past winter.
We followed by warning of the cumulative effect of the combination of events and likely developments in 2014:
- continuing lower demand in the EP and the Council
- EP elections
- a new Commission, with a big turnover in its composition
- changes to the Staff Regulations and consequences thereof.
Redeployment of financial resources was another matter we raised. We argued that grants for undergraduate students, for instance, might be redirected to provide more language-adding bursaries and other assistance for those already graduated and accredited. SCIC’s influence with interpreting schools, we also argued, could be used to improve course design.
Moving on to external communication, we mentioned the range of channels used by SCIC, the FAQ on SCIC’s Europa pages, video clips on Youtube, visits by heads of booths to interpreting schools, etc. We provided several examples where the message transmitted is entirely at odds with the current situation.
We were also able to point out that a silo-based approach to what is happening on the market as a whole may not be appropriate, and that we are in close contact with the professional delegation at the EP and the Negotiating Delegation on this.
Based on all of the above, we made three recommendations:
- Provide figures, and especially the relevant figures, either on an individual booth basis, as often as necessary, or an overall summary at least once a year.
- Where justified on analysis of the current figures (recent developments in the EN booth, for instance), we advocate cutting right back on, or even freezing, accreditation testing and the Newcomers’ Facility for the next 18 months.
- As a matter of urgency, update and adjust the various means and channels used for external communication to reflect the current situation.
In conclusion, we stressed two aspects which we and many colleagues who have commented recently feel are crucial to the design and implementation of SCIC’s recruitment policy:
- employers’ corporate social responsibility and therefore that of the European Commission as an employer itself
- SCIC’s dual role on the interpreting market in the EU, with its direct control of a large proportion of the demand side and its increasingly active policy on the supply side (training, accreditation, localising resources).
* See for instance: Minutes of Management meeting 24 January 2013.