Rather than travelling abroad on a gap year, students could find they have more to gain by taking time out to gain skills at home.
A gap year at home can be as challenging and adventurous as you want it to be – and it will certainly enhance your CV. It’s also likely to work out significantly cheaper.
Here are some of the things gappers can do if they stay in Britain:
1. Go wild in the great outdoors
YMCA Fairthorne Group gives school-leavers the opportunity to train as activity leaders at their Southampton base. There are various courses available – all free and include food and accommodation – including a 12-month apprenticeship in activity leadership, which culminates in a Level 2 NVQ.
2. Help preserve Britain’s heritage
The custodians of some of Britain’s finest parks and properties, the National Trust has a diverse range of roles for volunteers, which could involve anything from dry-stone walling to leading tours. Voluntary placements can last from a few days to a year.
3. Go WWOOFing
Though it sounds like a canine charity, WWOOF UK (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms UK) is, in fact, dedicated to teaching people about low-impact lifestyles through hands-on experience. The charity has a list of organic farms, gardens and smallholdings, which provide volunteers with food, accommodation and training in exchange for practical help. These farms range from woodland settlements to a 600-hectare mixed holding with an on-site farm shop, café and education centre. The duration of a placement is agreed between the host and volunteer.
4. Give something back
There’s often a serious side to gap years. Cue Volunteering Matters, which places benevolent young adults with individuals who require assistance, such as elderly people or people with disabilities. This isn’t for the fainthearted, but such work can be rewarding.
5. Head for new horizons
Let the shimmering Solent become your classroom by enrolling at UKSA, an Isle of Wight-based charity that provides training opportunities for people seeking new horizons on the water. Students can learn to become skippers, deckhands and watersports instructors through a range of courses, which guarantee job interviews upon completion. One of the UKSA’s most popular programmes is the 11-week watersports instructor course, which starts from £5,395 and includes food and accommodation. Bursaries are available for those who require financial assistance.