Structured gap years

Late in 2010 the Government passed a bill to increase university tuition fees to up to £9000 per year. Not only is this a huge increase from the current £3000 but to add insult to injury, young people are not getting jobs upon graduation. For many jobs there are over 1000 applicants chasing just one place, plus we should note, wages are not rising with inflation.

Whilst for many university is a good idea, the only route into the career they want, for others it is becoming less important. Life skills are once more being viewed as valuable. So how do you get these ‘life skills’ if you can’t actually get a job in the first place? One answer is to take a gap year.

We’re not talking sunning yourself on a Thai beach for six months or ‘pub crawling’ your way along the Australian East Coast. A well-planned, structured gap year, even if it doesn’t include volunteering is a great way to not only grow up and take responsibility for yourself, but you will learn many valuable skills along the way. If you need some inspiration, here are two ideas that you could put into practice.

Structured gap years

Ski or snowboard instructor

This may require some initial investment, but if you do your research you don’t need to pay several thousand Pounds for a 12-week instructor course in Les Deux Alpes. There are ski and snowboard schools in Austria, France and Switzerland that cater to English speakers and you can get qualified in under two weeks.

Once you begin instructing you’ll actually be earning. You will meet new people everyday. You will have to be responsible for large groups of people, be great at organising, team leading and time keeping… see where we are going with this? Plus you can also learn a language while you’re at it, not to mention you’ll have a lot of fun along the way.


Working for free always looks good on your C.V. if not on your bank statement. You can learn valuable skills and you can often work within the industry you later want to work, on a paid basis, in. For example, you could work on a radio station in Kenya, teach children in English in Cambodia or protect endangered wildlife in Costa Rica. Look for placements that allow you to have your fingers in lots of different pies and don’t pay several thousand Pounds to volunteer for a large organisation.

To help you on your way, literally, check our the range of round the world trip options from Round the World Experts.

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