Not all Gap Years have to be a Gap Yah

Press Release: 2011-08-10


As A-level results are set to come out, employers and Matt Lacey, of Gap Yah comedy fame, outline why time spent abroad is no bad thing, and how a Gap Year experience can develop qualities required in the work place


Over the past 12 months ‘experts’ have claimed that the ‘the Gap Year is dead’. Whilst it cannot be denied that the face of the Gap Year is changing, from the length of time spent away (the newly named Gap Stint) to the destinations most visited, it does not mean that this period of travel is a dying breed. A-level students, and even their future employers recognise the cultural and experiential benefits of stepping out from an all too familiar comfort zone and heading off on an adventure that will test necessary skill sets needed in adult life.


In a recent nationwide survey of over 500 UK businesses conducted by Real Gap Experience, nearly 1 in 2 employers of young graduates agreed that travel can demonstrate a candidate’s ability to act independently (61%), put themselves in different environments (53%) and feel comfortable meeting and engaging with new people (46%). These same employers listed independence, initiative and teamwork as the top qualities that they look for in the work place, clearly coinciding with those skills believed to be gained through experiential travel. 


The research also demonstrated the need for a well-planned and structured year out. Employers will not be impressed if a Gap Year has been spent in a non-stop haze of hangovers. Instead, recruiters want their perspective employees to show their worth and use their time away in a constructive manner. 42% of UK business’ now believe that non-academic experience is more valuable than 10 years ago, with 1 in 2 Employers conceding that voluntary work experience abroad has a positive impact on their decision to interview a candidate. The first thing that recruiters now look for on a CV is no longer academic qualifications but work experience instead, with 45% of employers looking at this first over 21% who look at academic qualifications.


Matt commented “Orlando and his ‘Gap Yah’ are a parody of the individuals that jet off on a year abroad and see the world through beer goggles, but this doesn’t mean that all gappers are treating their time away like a scene out of the Hangover 2. The period between burning your books after A levels and opening a new chapter either at University or in the working world, could be a life enhancing opportunity to get under the skin of different countries and discover more about yourself and about the world than you will have done in PSHE or Geography.”


Matt continues, “Very few people get another chance in life to take this sort of time out, so my advice is GO!! Learn from Orlando by doing the complete opposite of what he did. If you do a structured Gap Year or Stint with a reputable company such as Real Gap Experience or i-to-i Volunteering you can’t go wrong. I, like many young people, paid for my trip away by spending the first part of the year working (in my case as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant). With the incentive of such a spectacular trip away, it makes the hard graft of shifting plates and washing glasses all the more worthwhile.” 


The world is quite literally the A level students oyster. Many will choose to go straight to University but despite the rise in tuition fees set to take place in 2012, a large amount of students have still opted to defer. According to UCAS, there’s only been a 20% dip in deferrals compared to last year; a lot less than they were expecting. It’s also important not to forget the 200,000 something students that lost out to a place at University in 2010. A Gap Year can also offer the opportunity to take stock, gain new experience, and decide from there what path to follow.


Sam Cox, Managing Director of Real Gap Experience comments “Whilst the Gap Year is constantly evolving, one thing remains the same; students want to see the world and gain new experiences. Every day they learn something new about a different part of the world, be it on the news, in a geography lesson or even from a Tweet written by one of their favourite celebrities; so why shouldn’t they go out and discover the world that they’ve been learning about.”


Sam continues, “From the survey we have learnt that initiative, independence and team work are the three main things recruiters look for in their future employees, all of which can be accrued on a Gap Year or Stint. With an estimated 80 graduates applying for every job, students need to choose carefully. They can work with animals, communities, learn a new language, teach a language or head to the opposite side of the world and join a program that will provide them with an opportunity to get paid to do something they love and even fund additional travel.”




Date issued: Wednesday 10th August 2011


Notes to Editors:


Survey results: Carried out by Opinion Matters, the survey results were taken from 505 UK nationwide businesses. Employer groups covered most industry sectors including Arts and Culture, Education, Finance, Healthcare, IT and Telecoms, Retail, Catering, Architecture and Engineering, Media and Sales, and Travel and Transport.


About Real Gap Experience: Since 2003 Real Gap has been offering worldwide Gap Experiences to 35 countries across 6 continents. Tours run from 2 weeks to a year and can be a full time volunteer project to a hands-on activity with adventure travel itineraries exploring the highlights of the destination. Experiences encourage interaction with locals, helping travellers really get under the skin of the culture. Real Gap and Real Gap for Grown Ups offer a variety of tours from volunteering, teaching, sports coaching and paid work programmes across Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Americas.

About i-to-i Volunteering: Since 1994, i-to-i Volunteering, based in Leeds, has provided meaningful travel trips to offer fulfilling and life-changing travel experiences to anyone with a desire to get out there and make a difference for the better. Annually 6,000 volunteers are placed on projects to assist in the development of overseas local communities in 24 countries worldwide. The volunteer projects chosen with NGO’s are sustainable and produce a positive long-term impact and contribution to the local community.


Examples of most popular Gap Year trips, spanning from two weeks to a year:


Community work with children in Mombasa, Kenya: Be inspired and head to Kenya to help teach local children. What most volunteers might not have bargained for when choosing this projects is the amount that they will be learning whilst there! The wonderful children that i-to-i volunteers work with in Mombasa may have had an unimaginably hard start in life, but they soon teach volunteers to appreciate, enjoy and find a positive in the small things. Mombasa is one of Africa’s major tourist destinations. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the famous powdery beaches, the colourful architecture and breathtaking wildlife make this a must getaway. But behind the tourist trail lies another story. The projects that i-to-i Volunteering work with in Mombasa endeavor to offer support and advice to young people affected by homelessness, poverty and/or the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Volunteers are desperately needed to support the staff running the centres, and to provide some basic skills and companionship. As English is a national language in Kenya, learning English is a necessity and by helping in these areas volunteers can bring an invaluable skill to the young people they work with. This trip offers the chance to look beyond Mombasa’s world-class hotels and experience real Kenyan culture in a thoroughly eye-opening way. i-to-i Volunteering work with a number of community development projects in and around Mombasa all in need of extra support. The children love meeting new people and are extremely passionate about learning English, something they would not be able to do if it was not for the project. The typical work day schedule with the children will be from 9-5 and when it comes to the end of the day, despite having such a wonderfully varied city to explore, volunteers won’t want to leave. The accommodation is up to the volunteer; there’s the option to either stay in a guest house or with a local family, enhancing the cultural experience further and providing an opportunity to get a real insight into Kenyan custom. 


Prices start from £599 for 1 week land only with durations up to 12 weeks available. Accommodation is provided in a guest house or homestay – this can be chosen by the volunteer prior to travel. All breakfasts and dinners are provided. The trip also includes airport pick-up, in-country orientation and 24 hour support.


VALID:             Valid for all 2011/12 departures


BOOK: Call i-to-i Volunteering on 0113 205 4609 or visit


Ultimate Aussie Fun Down Under: Australia is an essential stop for those planning to work abroad for a year of adventure and opportunities. With its laidback outdoor lifestyle, cracking nightlife, friendly locals, stunning harbour and some of the most famous beaches in the world, it’s little wonder gap travellers flock here time and time again.


Real Gap Experience’s Ultimate Aussie Fun Down Under helps travellers with the basics needed to find work, by arranging working visas, a 12 month job service membership, YHA membership, an Australian bank account, as well as giving tax advice and a full orientation of Sydney. Working in Australia is a great experience and the advantages are endless; travellers can save the money they earn and use it to explore more of the country, whilst the skills picked up along the way will be hugely beneficial when securing a job back home. The package also includes the ultimate 7 night introduction to Oz. Not only does this include a bunch of activities such as surf lessons, a Sydney Harbour cruise and a real Aussie BBQ, it provides the perfect basis to meet new friends and adjust to a new way of life.


Prices start from £939 land only. Includes seven nights at Sydney YHA on arrival, YHA membership, welcome lunch at Sydney Centrepoint Tower, working holiday visa (valid for 12 months), hunter valley wine tasting day trip, surf lesson (September-May) / Blue Mountains trip (June-August), Sydney Harbour cruise, Taronga Zoo (from September - Wildlife World), 12 months membership to job service, tax advice, bank account opened prior to arrival, airport transfers, in-country orientation and 24 hour support.


VALID: Valid for all 2011/12 departures


BOOK: Call Real Gap Experience on 01892 516164 or visit

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