Reports from the Department of Education reveal that 88% of students who took a gap year believe it made them more employable, while a survey by YouGov also found that 63% of HR professionals believed a constructive gap year can make a job application stand out. Reports collated by Fresh Student Living looks into the facts behind the ‘gap year’ and how taking one can impact employability.
With the latest A Level results being published on the 15th August 2019, many students will be planning their futures and may be considering taking a gap year.
- 60% of students said a gap year helped them decide what subject to study at university
- 40% of students do not apply to university before taking a gap year
- 66% of students took their academic work more seriously after having a gap year
- 88% of students felt that their gap year added to their employability
What is the purpose of a gap year?
Nowadays, people use gap years to explore new countries, broaden their skills and experience new cultures. As university places, and graduate jobs are becoming increasingly competitive, many prospective students and recent graduates use a gap year to help set themselves apart from the competition.
Recent research shows that 230,000 18-25-year-olds take a gap year annually, and the trend is only growing as young people today are more interested in new experiences – 72% of young people prefer to spend money on experiences than material things.
The impact on employability
A common misconception is taking a gap year is nothing more than a waste of time and money. However, almost half (46%) of HR professionals said they are more likely to employ a graduate with gap year experience, which involved independent travel working or volunteering overseas.
Experience vs academics
In depth research shows that 44% of employers place more weight on experience more than a degree, while more than half of HR professionals thought young people taking constructive gap years tended to get better value from their degrees.
When is the right time to take a gap year?
While many students may be considering taking a gap year, others could be wondering when the right time is to take a gap year – before starting university, before the final year, or just before joining the workforce? While the answer depends entirely on circumstances, which could include affordability and the fear of not being accepted at your chosen university, it is essential to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.
Pre-university gap year
Many institutions encourage taking a gap year before higher education as it is said to help students mature and give them a sense of duty and responsibility.
- Entering university with added maturity and sense of responsibility
- Allows ‘breathing’ space before returning to studying for the next few years
- Many organisations cater to students taking gap years and can include courses, projects, volunteering and internships
Taking a year out of university
While this is not something usually recommended, and in some cases seen as “non-committal” to some employers, there are still some perks to a mid-degree gap year.
- The break can provide plenty of opportunities to work, volunteer and travel abroad
- Study abroad options can introduce you to a new culture and lifestyle, and sharpen up your CV
- Can be the prime opportunity to do a placement to benefit career prospects
Post-university gap year
After an intense few years of consistently studying, taking a year off can be the best idea to help mentally prepare graduates for the world of work and settling into a long-term career.
- Taking time to travel, gaining new experience and sampling different cultures, before settling into the workforce
- Gaining a better understanding of personal preferences and limitations
- A good way to boost your CV
Making your gap year count
Taking a gap year is an opportunity to experience the world and learn some life-long lessons, and there are a few things you can do to make the most of the experience:
- Volunteering will definitely boost help applications to stand out, while this type of experience can also benefit medicinal and veterinary courses
- It is a good idea to participate in activities that improve and maintain skills
- Use the gap year as an opportunity to earn and save some money – this reflects better with employers
- Gain experience and learn more about the world
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