Academic results not the ‘be all and end all’

Press Release: 2011-08-11


Survey reveals that employers look at work experience first on young candidates’ CVs

Only 8 per cent look at A-Level results first


Thousands of students will soon be opening their A-level results but an independent survey has been released revealing that 45% of employers look at work experience first on young candidates’ CVs, a figure which rises to 64% in the UK’s largest employers. Furthermore, the survey carried out on behalf of gap year specialist Real Gap Experience revealed that 42% of employers said non-academic experience is more valuable now than 10 years ago.


Indicating that work experience is the most important differentiator when young people apply for jobs, the nationwide survey of over 500 UK businesses also found that more than 85% of surveyed employers said that non-academic experience reflected a young candidate’s potential as an employee.


Overseas breaks to gain work and volunteering experiences such as those organised by Real Gap and i-to-i Volunteering offer students a chance to gain practical skills for the workplace, a feeling of personal achievement, and cultural experience overseas. Milestones like these improve their prospects by making them stand out from their peers when applying for university places and jobs.  


Sam Cox Managing Director of Real Gap Experience and i-to-i Volunteering, commented: “With more and more candidates achieving higher grades and competition fiercer than ever before, it is imperative that students have something that will make them stand out from the crowdGap travel can last from anything from 2 to 52 weeks and it is no longer a rite of passage but more of a vocational learning path. Our Real Gap overseas experiences such as working on a turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, equip young people with work related skills that are highly regarded by prospective employees. We also work with local NGOs on volunteering projects, bringing lasting benefits to the host destinations. In Thailand our i-to-i Volunteering projects cover everything from conservation, to work in the community for example”.


Opinion Matters carried out Real Gap Experience and i-to-i Volunteering’s survey on employer groups covering almost every industry sector such as arts & cultural organisations, education, finance, healthcare, IT, and manufacturing. According to the survey, paid work experience is critical for young people wanting to join the architecture and engineering trades with 92 per cent of respondents claiming that paid work experience positively influences their decision to interview or recruit young candidates, with only 54 per cent claiming academic qualifications had the same effect, the lowest of all business types surveyed.


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Issued: Thursday, 11 August 2011


Note to Editors:


Since 1996, i-to-i Volunteering 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.


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.

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