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Clarkson Evans enlists the help of young ‘mystery shoppers’ to fine-tune its recruitment practices

March 20, 2017

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Clarkson Evans, one of the UK’s leading electrical contractors, has put its weight behind Future Proof, a new campaign designed to break down barriers in recruitment for young people.

As a company Clarkson Evans recruits between 80 – 100 apprentices each year, with most candidates accessing information about roles via the company’s website.

So when the company had the opportunity for young ‘mystery shoppers’ to audit its website, looking for unnecessary industry jargon and inaccessible technical language, Clarkson Evans was keen to get involved in the Future Proof campaign.

The Future Proof campaign was launched by Business in the Community and the City & Guilds Group after a study they commissioned revealed that confusing job descriptions are a ‘major barrier’ for young job seekers entering the workforce.

Young ‘mystery shoppers’ went through the Clarkson Evans website with a fine toothcomb identifying areas for improvement and pointing out ways in which the electrical contractor could present information about the day-to-day responsibilities of its apprentices more clearly.

Grace Mehanna, Youth Employment Campaign Director at Business in the Community, the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, said: “Understanding jargon is not a measure of a young person’s potential or indication that they are a better candidate. We’re concerned that the prevalence of ‘business speak’ in job adverts aimed at first jobbers will be a major barrier that could inadvertently screen out young people without access to working role models and networks.”

Electrical apprentices from Exeter, Gloucester and Birmingham

As a result of feedback from the young ‘mystery shoppers’ a number of changes have been introduced to the content and visual appearance of recruitment information on the Clarkson Evans website.

These changes include:

· 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 

 “We were delighted to be given the opportunity to take part in the Future Proof campaign and, as a result, are more aware of how we can put young people off from applying for our entry level roles just because of the way we describe those jobs and the visual images we choose to display on our website,” said Lindsey Young, HR & Training Director at Clarkson Evans.

“The Future Proof campaign has also galvanised us to consult more widely with our existing apprentices, seeking their thoughts on how we promote our apprenticeship vacancies,” added Lindsey.

The company is publicly supporting Business in the Community’s new guidance for employers that recommends they review job descriptions to identify jargon and acronyms.

“We’d like other Gloucestershire businesses to consider following our lead to review their recruitment information and strip away job advert jargon. Where acronyms need to be included they should be explained in brackets with a clear explanation of any technical language used,” said Mrs Young.

Clarkson Evans is currently recruiting apprentices across its branch network with roles available across the company. To apply click here.