Careers Vocabulary


A relationship between two parties (an employer and an employee). In in the employee agrees to give up their time to do something that the employer wants done, in exchange for money. Where someone wants to work but cannot find an employer they become unemployed. However, if you are able to earn money without an employer, for example by selling services direct to customers, then you are self-employed.

Labour Market

The world of work can be thought of as a marketplace in which some people (employers) are buying and others (employees) are selling their time and effort (labour.)


An occupation describes a type of job or a series of closely related jobs. It describes what someone does but doesn’t describe where someone works. So computer programmer is an occupation but the Information Technology industry is a sector.


The process of finding employees to fill vacant job opportunities.


A regular payment made to someone for the work they do. It is usually described in job adverts as an annual (yearly) sum. However, this annual figure will normally be described as a gross figure (the whole amount paid by the employer) rather than as a net figure (the amount that the employee actually takes home after they have paid taxes, pensions and other deductions).


The type of organisation that you work for. It doesn’t describe the jobs that individual workers do. So, a school is in the education sector, but it will employ accountants, cleaners, and administrators as well as educators.


The term STEM describes qualifications and jobs that relate to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This is a very broad category, but it is important because lots of commentators argue that we don’t have enough workers with STEM qualifications.


Economists look at what has happened in the past to make a guess about what might happen in the future. For example, they might look at how many agricultural workers are about to retire and how many are being trained to suggest whether there is going to be a need for more agricultural workers in the future. Such information is based on careful analysis, but is best seen as an informed guess rather than a fact.