Hard Work

Written by Simon Renfrew

Other than the offspring of Arab potentates, and like it or not, most of us spend a fair chunk of our lives at work. Spanning those years between sponging off mum and dad and latterly trying to remember your grand children's names and where you left your glasses, lie decades of graft. All the more reason then to try it whilst still at school – if only to find out what couldn't bear doing for five minutes, let alone forty years.

With this in mind, lycées across the land encourage their charges to find some local enterprise to take them on for a couple of weeks and get some experience. A worthy aim, but swiftly the whole thing falls on its administratively padded backside - especially amongst smaller businesses which don't have the time to fill out the War and Peace sized dossiers that the students are obliged to get completed. Nor to understand the statutory wage regulations, holiday pay entitlements, working time directives and vetting that goes with them. And heaven forefend that the eager candidate try to arrange something outside the conventional period or overseas – the very thought making the school's computer explode and driving the careers advisor into an apoplectic frenzy (always assuming he's bothered to turn up anyway).

That said, some adopt the Nike principal anyway – and just do it. Since there's no effective machinery to deal with this dangerously high level of initiative – other than an angry scrawl on their end of term report – pourquoi pas. And when they become captains of industry or professional politicians, perhaps they'll remember what a farce it all was. And do something about it.

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