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Job title inflation
Disgruntled teachers can always get jobs as student-centred knowledge-based interactive learning enablers. From the BBC (I wonder if they ran it past their Director of Communications and their Communications Delivery Facilitator, not to mention all those valuable deliverers in Human Resources):
Job title inflation is everywhere. Last week the Plain English Campaign received a local authority job advert from a member of the public for a "person-centred transition facilitator". "We debated for hours what this means. It might be a social worker dealing with disabled children?" says a spokesman.
Other examples from its files include ambient replenishment controller and regional head of services, infrastructure and procurement. Also known as shelf stacker and caretaker.
And in her review of 2009, the Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway awarded job title of the year to a journalism student whose business card read "Life explorer, multimedia storyteller, experience architect".
While some achieve absurd job titles all by themselves, others have absurdity thrust upon them. Newspapers' job adverts reveal a muster station of longwinded titles from the jargonistic - transformation project manager (reablement) - to the comically contradictory - head of offending services - or the downright weird - generic DIP practitioner.
Stephen Overell, associate director of the Work Foundation, says the days of the self-evident career - the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker - are all but gone.
"The reason these titles are changing is because work is becoming more cognitively complex and developing its own structure and jargon. And common experience is becoming rarer as companies try to find niches and grow increasingly specialised."
Yet there is another crucial factor at play. Status, and the desire to flatter. "It's often things like 'partnership relationship manager', a job that might once have been done by a secretary, so there's title inflation at work."
The Plain English Campaign notes the increasing number of jobs carrying the suffix "officer" in the past 20 years, particularly among public sector workers.
But does it matter? "I don't think there's anything wrong with that at an individual level," says Mr Overall [sic - is his name just a cover? M. J.]. "But at a general level it tends to confuse, to make things opaque that ought to be made simple."
He holds one group responsible. "Human resources are the worst miscreants. They're often responsible for escalating the jargon on their own jobs. I remember one HR manager whose title was 'talent and transformation country manager' and another 'vice president HR (employment relations, outsourcing and change)'."
But Angela Baron, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, says long titles seek to explain what a worker actually does.
"People can get very emotional about their job titles if it doesn't reflect their level of seniority or responsibility. All sorts of menial jobs have quite sophisticated titles to make them feel their jobs are important. So on the Newcastle Metro, ticket inspectors are now called revenue protection officers. It has made their jobs sound more important - and why not?"
However, such an approach leaves employees open to ridicule. It takes one back to the Victoria Wood sketch in which Hugh Laurie's pompous character - demoted to working in the canteen - exclaims: "I've a challenging new role… I'm very much looking forward to delivering popular yet high quality toast."