Four out of ten (42%) of employers admit to rejecting CVs due to a lack of understanding, while the majority find the jargon and acronyms candidates use confusing, according to new research published today by City & Guilds.

Today’s findings, published as City & Guilds launch TechBac®, a new vocational curriculum and qualification, which has been developed in partnership with industry, show only one third (35%) of employers believe today’s qualifications adequately prepare candidates for real work.

The research, which gathered views from more than 1000 small, medium and large businesses, revealed that 57% of employers found acronyms on CVs confusing, almost two thirds (64%) have had to look up acronyms on the internet, and 95% of employers are unable to identify the most advanced qualification from a list of acronyms.The importance of clarity for job seekers was highlighted by 64% employers thinking the use of jargon is used to cover up a lack of skills or qualifications.

As it launches TechBac®, City & Guilds has looked to address these issues by working with the Plain English campaign to create a jargon buster to explain the acronyms and jargon that exist in education for employers and learners.

Chrissie Maher OBE, founder and director of Plain English Campaign, said: “The research carried out by City & Guilds highlights a serious problem. Plenty of employers won’t have a clue about a candidate’s ability to do the job if they don’t know what a qualification is worth or even what it means. Acronyms are never a good idea, and all qualifications surely need to be written in full and, if they’re relatively new , with an explanation about how they compare with more traditional, well-known qualifications.

“But it’s not just potential employers who lose out: job seekers could be wasting years of hard work on qualifications that employers won’t recognise.”

Kirstie Donnelly, UK managing director of City & Guilds, said: “It’s clear from this research, and our conversations with employers, that the education system is moving further and further away from the needs of business. High levels of youth unemployment and increasing skills gaps across many sectors show that the education young people are receiving is not helping them to develop relevant skills or enough understanding of the workplace to successfully compete and find employment, and our research shows employers are not getting what they need.

“That’s why we have launched the City & Guilds TechBac® – a new curriculum that provides learners with a professional pathway to their chosen career and the technical qualifications and skills they need to progress in work. A young person who has successfully completed a TechBac® will signal to businesses that they are work ready.”

TechBac® is an entirely new professional programme designed to give 14 to 19 year olds an exciting alternative path towards an apprenticeship, higher education or employment. The inspiring programme has been designed in partnership with employers and experts from the further education sector, to equip young people with the skills they need to confidently enter the world of work and pave the way to a successful career.  

It combines a technical qualification and an accredited project qualification, with practical work experience and essential workplace skills to deliver a dynamic and varied programme of study to get young people ready for work.  And it helps them stand out from the crowd.

Online mentoring is a key part of the programme.  Learners are paired with a mentor to give them an invaluable insight into their chosen industry and practical advice to help them find a job.

The qualifications at the heart of the TechBac® have been submitted for UCAS points to keeps all options open for those who are undecided whether they want to continue into higher education or employment.

Kirstie Donnelly added: “We believe that by offering students a qualification which has been developed with and endorsed by employers we can equip our young people with the skills they need to be tomorrow’s industry leaders.”