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There is so much more to a gap year than a tick on a CV

Date added: Monday 15th June 2015

12 June 2015

The article this week in the Telegraph (10 June) - Want to land a great job? Don't go on a 'gap yah', work at JD Sports - suggests that young people would be better gaining work on the UK high street than undertaking a structured gap year in the UK or overseas.

Year Out Group feels the argument is too simplistic and doesn’t take any account of the diversity of individuals who decide to take some time out before or after university. Neither does it recognise the huge range of destinations, organisations and opportunities available to young people. In fact, many young people will combine paid work in the UK with fundraising, volunteering, backpacking and perhaps learning a new vocational skill whilst overseas.

Resilience, self-reliance, work place skills and dealing with the public? Yes, you can learn and develop all these things on a gap year. You can also raise your sights higher than the high street often allows-how about working for Rolls Royce through a UK based year in industry placement for instance? That is not belittling the value of retail experience; after all shops require a steady turnover of staff who can offer flexible work times, which suits those trying to study, volunteer or fundraise at the same time. Even if one doesn’t intend to follow a career in retail, the skills can be put to good use elsewhere. The same applies for what is learned during an overseas gap year whether participants study, volunteer on a health or conservation project, teach, join an expedition, learn to crew a yacht or instruct at a ski school.

A gap year offers space for young people to consider where and what they do next with lives, to break from the expectations that others have of them and take ownership and responsibility for making things happen.  Part of this is in financing their time away.

To suggest that the gap year is only within the reach of children of wealthy families is simply not true and they are as popular amongst state schools as private ones. Whilst some may be able to call on family support, most have to work very hard for the ‘reward’ of travelling overseas. Much of their year is spent in the UK, working on the high street in shops and restaurants to fund their time away. Year Out Group members actively encourage participants not to rely on parents when it comes to financing their gap year and offer advice about how to raise the funds required. Increasingly people on gap years also find paid work overseas to help fund the next part of their trip.

All these things will help to improve a CV and stand out at interview of course. But whilst young people may have this on their minds, a gap year also offers them a rich opportunity for personal development, adventure, cultural awareness and securing friendships that will endure long after their first job interview is forgotten - and probably for a lifetime.




Year Out Group is an association of leading gap year providers formed in 1998 to encourage structured gap year programs, promote good practice by gap year providers and offer advice to potential participants.

The Year Out Group is a not for profit company limited by guarantee and registered in England & Wales as company number 4159554. Registered Office: 27 Banbury Road, Woodstock, Oxon OX201LH

Contact: Stefan Wathan, CEO Year Out Group

T: 01993 811057 M: 07506 562701 E:[email protected]