Mind the gap year

Coincidental, but nice timing all the same.

On the day when yet another unthinking, insensitive young Brit upsets local sensitivities by baring her boobs atop a sacred mountain, it’s good to see a plea to replace the nonsense of gap year jaunts with something more commonplace and meaningful.

Sandie Okoro, global lead lawyer for HSBC Global Asset Management, told a conference of school leaders she was more impressed by a CV listing employment at a JD Sports store or a supermarket  than one detailing a year spent in far-flung places, probably with parental financial support.

Ms Okoro said obtaining worthwhile employment was no longer about academic achievements. “Everyone’s got the same academics … so what are you going to bring to me that isn’t in front of me on someone else’s CV?’

She said a trip overseas signalled parental help rather than the student’s own efforts and gap years had almost become the norm and formulaic. “I’d like to see the mundane and ordinary come back in.”

In her view, a job in a sports store or supermarket helped youngsters develop resilience and pick up skills that would help them in the workplace for life. “I don’t care how much you are overachieving; the real bit I like to see is people who have done that old-fashuioned Saturday job, the old-fashioned supporting themselves bit.”

Clearly not impressed with those who have “gone off to all these wonderful places … to China … built an orphanage … done this and that”, Ms Okoro might well have been addressing master’s graduate (so well educated!) Eleanor Hawkins who seemed to think it quite permissible and normal to strip and urinate on the summit of Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu.



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