More students opt for working gap year

The number of UK students planning a working gap year ahead of university is up. According to a leading work placement charity, applications are up 45% on last year with the main recruitment period still to come.    

Chris Ward of The Year in Industry group said young people had made a ‘step change’ in their approach to university and career planning. “They are taking a much more hard-headed approach to maximising their career prospects and to ensuring they get maximum value out of their degrees,” he said. “These changes have been driven by the cost of gaining a degree, a cost which they now see as an investment on which there must be a good return.”

Mr Ward identified three developments behind the surge in numbers. He said students now recognised that a good degree was no longer enough and that work experience was crucial to getting a career underway. Secondly, students wanted to cut the cost of education via sponsorship by potential employers. And, thirdly, students wanted to be absolutely certain the degree they were applying for was the right choice for them.  An increasing number of students now apply for their degree during a gap year rather than applying earlier and deferring.

Mr Ward said: “Within broad subject areas there is a wide range of alternative degrees and students are making sure they are match their degree choice to the commercial realities they see on their working gap year.”

The Year in Industry is one of the UK’s leading student-placement organisations providing paid placements for students before or during their degree courses.  Placements are made in all areas of engineering, science, IT, e-commerce, business, marketing, finance and logistics with over 300 UK companies every year.

A survey last year found that a majority of recruitment managers believed young people got better value out of a degree if they took a constructive gap year first.