An issue that has plagued the court reporting industry in Australia for many years now is the lack of machine stenographers (stenos). It’s a vicious circle in which there are not enough people training and as a result there are not enough jobs. Put simply, if employers can’t find enough suitably-qualified stenographers to do the work, they will look for other solutions thereby reducing the number of jobs available to stenographers. I think this is a fact that is probably recognised by all in the industry. This seems incredible when demand for stenographers is actually as strong as ever, but again, not enough stenographers = employers looking for, and using, other solutions.
But there’s another side effect to all this. Pressure is being put on stenographers to work longer and harder without breaks. The lack of skilled stenographers has led to a higher price being put on the skill, the old economics of supply and demand. But machine stenography is a skill that cannot be overrated. Add to this there are also downward cost pressures when tendering and quoting for jobs. This results in companies paying stenos less and only allocating or booking one steno for jobs that involve many hours of work and either very small or no breaks. Or sometimes there are breaks but the work is very intensive and a steno is expected to work for hours at this intensity without a break. Stenos are burning out and developing work-related health problems. Often those who book us out (I say “us” because I am a steno too) worry too much about securing the work and profits. Not enough consideration is given to the fact that we are human beings or to safeguarding our particular skill for the future.
At CaptionsLIVE we aim to be a sustainable business – sustainable for our stenos and sustainable for our clients. We keep our prices low enough that you can afford to have two stenos when needed on a job. We want to look after our stenos for their own career longevity and quality of life, but also so they will be available to provide a premium service to clients well into the future.