Jargon Free Jobs – what’s changing and why? by Matt Baker-Mulhall

Recently, overuse of jargon in job descriptions has been found to be turning young people looking for Apprenticeships away from open positions. To help me understand the type of jargon applicants were faced with, I took the Jargon Quiz on the BITC (Businesses In The Community) website.


I just about managed to scrape 5/7 through guesswork and serious reading between the lines. Particularly unhelpful were the abbreviations that could easily have been spelt out in full to clear up any misconceptions.

In an attempt to combat these issues, BITC has led 7 ‘mystery shopper’ workshops over a year across the UK, to help businesses find out which terms confuse their potential Apprentices. Results showed that many of the young people involved didn’t understand what the jobs they were assessing required because of use of jargon and technical terms.

One of the businesses benefitting from these assessments is Clarkson Evans, one of the UK’s leading electrical contractors. From results conducted by young people, they have been able to improve by:

  • Incorporating new photographic images to illustrate the wide variety of people who become Apprentices at the company.
  • Being more transparent about salary scales as people progress through their Apprenticeship.
  • Greater clarity over what Apprentices do on a daily basis, describing their day-to-day responsibilities, avoiding jargon and using language that non-electricians would understand

Clarkson Evans visited my school, Matthew Arnold, just a few weeks ago on a careers day to give us a talk on what they offer and how we should present ourselves to possible employers. Their talk was very helpful and enlightening on how a student coming out of school should think and act when looking to be employed.

One of the newer Apprentices who joined OxLEP in February is Toby, who works as a Business Admin Apprentice. He told me: “When I was applying for jobs in September, most included a few details, but left out important information about the workplace and some didn’t give details about holidays and pay. However, when I found the offer from OxLEP, I was informed of everything in an easy to understand way, with no jargon.”


Rebecca is a former Apprentice now working as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive of OxLEP. She took part in one of the ‘mystery shopper’ workshops and told me about the event: “This workshop provided young people with a great opportunity to feedback helpful suggestions on how all employers can improve their websites and advertisement of current vacancies in order to make them more attractive and accessible for young people looking to apply for a job or Apprenticeship.” 


The Jargon Free Jobs campaign is making a huge difference in raising awareness and helping businesses to become more transparent and accessable in Oxfordshire. You can find out more by visiting these links:

News article on Clarkson Evans: https://tinyurl.com/m23y928
Information on our Ambassadors: https://tinyurl.com/n5xf7zb
BITC webpage outlining their campaign: http://futureproof.bitc.org.uk/jargonfreejobs

By Matt Baker-Mulhall, Year 10, Matthew Arnold School

Matt is on work experience this week with the Oxfordshire Apprenticeships team.