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Gap Year IDEAS

To have a look at some great ideas for what to do with your gap year, see IDEAS

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Gap Year SHOP

Search for gap year suppliers of flights, insurance, accommodation and much more...

Gap Year TALKS

For an impartial gap year talk at a school, college or an exhibition, see TALKS

Studies into gap years

DFE report 'Gap year takers: uptake, trends and long term outcomes' - DFE-RR252, November 2012.  See http://www.gapadvice.org/images/dfe_research_nov12.pdf

DEMOS report into volunteering - July 2011

In September 2010, the Coalition Government announced plans for the creation of a new International Citizen Service (ICS). ICS forms part of a wider strategy to encourage volunteering and civic engagement – the Big Society. Increased volunteering not only benefits the communities where the projects are based, but also acts almost as an apprenticeship for social action: developing character capabilities, employability skills and a greater sense of community responsibility. Service International provides recommendations to maximise the value of ICS and ensure its success. It comprises the most recent research on the impacts of overseas volunteering, best practice and experiences from similar schemes in other countries and primary data on the impact of volunteering overseas for alumni of programmes in the UK. It finds that the Government’s plans for ICS enjoy widespread support – with 64 per cent of the public in favour. But to maintain this goodwill it must ensure that the programmes both have a direct benefit to the communities abroad and recruit young people who wouldn’t otherwise consider such an experience, and who would most benefit. If these conditions are met, ICS is perfectly well-placed to address the challenges facing young people today, while helping them to develop the attitude, skills and motivation to prepare them for adulthood and employment.

Volunteer tourism: A global analysis
Tourism Research and Marketing
83 pp
January 2008, ISBN: 978-90-75775-34-1
Main Description
This report provides a first global overview of the rapidly growing volunteer tourism market, and analyses the motivations, behaviour and travel patterns of volunteers and the activities of the organisations providing volunteer travel experiences. Part of the recent growth in volunteer travel can be related to the diversification of volunteer experiences, which make a definition of this market more difficult. Although most volunteer tourism involves a combination of travel and voluntary work, new forms of experience are emerging which involve a combination of work and leisure, or making donations instead of working.
This increasing demand for volunteer experiences is being met by a growing number of volunteer service organisations, most of whom have their headquarters in the developed world. Over half of the organisations we identified are non-profit, but the number of commercial providers is rising rapidly. Their activities have a considerable impact on the countries served, not only in terms of the fees paid directly to them by participants, but also because the volunteer travellers spend much larger sums of money funding their total travel plans - an average of over $3000 a trip in 2007.
Based on our survey of over 300 volunteer tourism organisations worldwide, we estimate that overall the market has grown to a total of 1.6 million volunteer tourists a year, with a value of between £832m and £1.3bn ($1.7bn - $2.6bn). The most substantial growth in the sector has taken place since 1990. A survey of over 8500 young travellers in 2007 indicates that volunteers are more likely to be women than men, and 70% were aged between 20 and 25. The frequency of volunteer motivations among young people grew slightly between 2002 and 2007, in line with trends in volunteering in general. Motivations for travel tend to be a mixture of volunteering, exploring other cultures and work and study abroad. There also seems to be a significant element of ‘unorganised’ volunteer tourism, with many young people finding volunteer placements once they arrive at their destination rather than being placed or sent by a volunteer service organization.
The main destinations for volunteers are Latin America, Asia and Africa. Together these regions account for almost 90% of the locations offered by volunteer service organisations. This underlines the close link between levels of development and volunteering, with most flows of volunteers being from relatively rich to relatively poor regions. National Tourist Offices have slowly begun to realise that there is a ‘high spending’ tourist market that is attracted to volunteering, and they are beginning to introduce volunteering opportunities on their websites. There has also been a significant growth in the number of commercial organisations catering to the volunteer market, and these are beginning to compete with the traditional non-profit volunteer service organisations.
There are also emerging ethical concerns about the benefits of volunteer travel, with some groups suggesting that it can do more harm than good. This especially concerns the way in which the volunteer work can be misdirected and organised more for the benefit of the untrained traveller than the recipients of their efforts. One of the proposed solutions to this problem is to recruit more experienced and highly skilled volunteers who will have more to offer their hosts. This trend matches the growth in career gaps and sabbaticals among older volunteers, which is slowly giving the volunteer tourism market a more senior age profile. The growth in volunteer tourism has also produced a plethora of analyses, websites and industry events, which are slowly adding to our body of knowledge about this important social phenomenon.
Contents
1. INTRODUCTION
2. WHAT IS VOLUNTEER TOURISM?
2.1. What is meant by 'volunteer'?
2.2. Defining and measuring civic service
2.3. Types of Volunteer Projects
2.4. Profit or non-profit
2.5. Fund raising
2.6. Costs
2.7. Government funding of projects
3. WHO ARE THE ORGANISATIONS AND COMPANIES INVOLVED?
4. FACTORS STIMULATING THE GROWTH OF VOLUNTEER TOURISM
4.1. Volunteer Motivation and Commitment
5. ETHICAL ISSUES IN VOLUNTEER TOURISM
5.1. Impact of volunteer tourism on local people
6. VOLUME AND VALUE OF VOLUNTEER TOURISM
6.1. Estimated volume of volunteer activity
6.2. Estimated market value
6.3. Charitable contributions
6.4. Government and government agency involvement
7. VOLUNTEER TOURISM MARKETS AND DESTINATIONS
7.1. Volunteer markets
7.2. Volunteer destinations
7.3. Volunteer Tourism - a global demand profile
7.4. Volunteer tourism and Tourism Boards
7.5 . Responding to crises
8. VOLUNTEER TOURISM ON THE WEB
8.1. Getting information
8.2. Voluntary Service supporting organisations
8.3. Volunteer Tourism Research
9. THE FUTURE OF VOLUNTEER TOURISM
10. CONCLUSIONS
11. APPENDIX
I. LIST OF ORGANISATIONS
II. GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SOURCES

Bebo, 19 August 2008 'Credit Crunch hits gap year travelers as trips shrink by half.'

The well travelled gap year has become the gap half year as the credit crunch impacts upon the student travel market - that’s the verdict of a new nationwide poll revealing that money worries are now the key concern for British students when planning Gap Year travels.2,000 students and post graduates were surveyed for the study which was specially commissioned by the world’s leading global social media network Bebo to celebrate their online reality adventure series The Gap Year www.bebo.com/thegapyear.The findings reveal that among both recently returned and imminent gap year travellers, available funds are the key factor (64 per cent) in planning any trip. More than half of those surveyed (52 per cent) were also worried about being in personal debt upon their return given the current economic climate; while four in ten respondents admitted that the employment market was a key factor in shortening their trips.As these concerns combine, itineraries are now being carved back from 12 to as few as just three months on the open road. More than two thirds (63 per cent) of those questioned were planning a maximum journey of six months away from home, with a mere 14 per cent planning a full year abroad.Bebo’s The Gap Year study also revealed a rise in the age of gap year travellers, with a significantly older set jetting off than once was the case. The average age of departure is now 23, with a third of travellers leaving aged 21-24 (32 per cent), many having completed degrees and choosing to travel before entering the world of work. A growing proportion of 25-29 year olds (16 per cent) are also now choosing take a gap year when older and wiser. 52 per cent of travellers were also convinced that taking a gap year is a sensible investment in their future, believing their travels would only improve their employability upon return.

The Abbey National 16 January 2008

Goodbye to the gapper?

· Twice as many students save for house deposit over a gap year
· One-in-ten ‘travelled’ grads wouldn’t do so today
British students are finding it increasingly difficult to justify blowing a small fortune on gap year gallivanting, now that escalating property prices make it too difficult to get on to the property ladder when they return home. That’s according to latest research from Abbey Mortgages1. Indeed an impressive 42 per cent (or 830,000) of students say that they’ve already started to squirrel away money towards the deposit on their first home, that’s more than twice the amount of students saving up to go travelling (19 per cent) or to purchase their first car (19 per cent) after graduation. Abbey’s research also found that one-in-10 past graduates that have financed a gap year in the past 10 years said they probably wouldn’t have made the same decision today - given current property prices. Further figures underline the compulsion felt by today’s students to start thinking about their first home. Only seven per cent of graduates over the past 10 years claimed to have saved money towards a house deposit while studying - six times less than current students claiming to have already done so today. And, despite the stereotypical image of students living off tea and toast, 21 per cent of past graduates thought they could definitely have saved more money while at University, while 2.9 million (17 per cent) wished that they had worked harder and played less!
Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, Head of Abbey Mortgages says: “House prices have brought in a harsh new reality for students. They now need to weigh up the benefits of travelling against jumping straight into a career and being able to afford to get onto the property ladder. It’s certainly encouraging to see that many university students are sensibly putting money aside for that important deposit on their first home.”
Abbey is fully aware of the difficulties first time buyers have in getting onto the property ladder, and is committed to developing new mortgages to give these customers the help they need.  We have a range of mortgage deals designed specifically with first time buyers in mind.  We also have products which help with the upfront costs such as free valuations and a £250 contribution towards legal fees.”
The information contained in Abbey's press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.
Notes to Editors
1) ICM omnibus amongst 1000 British adults 4-6th December 2007
Media Enquiries:
Natalie Eyles, Tel: 020 7756 4189, Mobile: 07920 531 795
Lara Lipsey, Tel: 020 7756 4209, Mobile: 07920 700 732

The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), June 2007:

According to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (June 2007), 88% of recruiters think a well-structured gap year helps equip you with the soft skills you may not have acquired while studying. Vice chairman Terence Perrin says: "Overall, gap years are viewed very positively. Communication skills, leadership, organisation and motivation are all important. "One thing that impresses employers is that graduates come back more mature and with more insight into themselves and the world. I think recruiters recognise that after a year's travel there's a lot more to bring to the table. They have left the security of their home looking for a new challenge and for that you need independence, motivation and confidence."

‘A gap year can cure your stroppy teenager’ (Dr Andrew King, University of Surrey, 12 April 2007.) Reported by Sarah Womack, Daily Telegraph, 10 Apr 07.

Once the preserve of the wealthy, the gap year has become a global finishing school for would-be students from across society. For parents it marks the end of an era as the house that was home to the offspring falls silent; for some it is a source of dread. But new research shows that the months of separation can help parents to bond with their fractious teenagers. The "year out", it seems, helps a son or daughter realise his father is more than someone just of use in the pub quiz, and his mother is something of a saint. One teenage boy coming back from his gap year said: "It sounds funny but I really learnt to love my parents during that year."
Academic research on relationships between parents of children who have taken a gap year and their offspring will be presented this week at the British Sociological Association's conference in London. Sociologist Andrew King, of the School of Human Sciences at the University of Surrey, said children grew more appreciative and closer to their parents if they took a gap year. "It's something of a stereotype to say that teenagers don't get on with their parents. A host of popular cultural portrayals of stroppy teenagers abound, from Harry Enfield's Kevin to Catherine Tate's Lauren.
"But what happens when those stroppy teenagers become adults? "For a number, an important outcome of their gap-year experiences has been the renegotiation of their relationships with their parents." He said the gap year was also beneficial to parents, who frequently acquired respect for teenagers who had gone abroad, particularly to inhospitable or potentially dangerous places and carried out voluntary work.
Gap years are booming. According to the Year Out Group, an association of gap-year providers, up to 200,000 Britons take time out each year, 130,000 of them school-leavers. Girls outnumber boys by a ratio of 60:40, with girls more likely to choose volunteering and boys most likely to go on courses and cultural exchanges. But many potential gappers don't take the plunge. STA Travel surveyed 14,000 young people and found that 73 per cent planned to take a gap year. Only a fifth of them will do it, according to Tammy Cohen, author of Amazing Gap Year Adventures. She said Prince William's voluntary work in South America had encouraged more gappers to do good works, however.
Mr King, who looked at the effects of gap years on 25 teenagers and their parents, said: "Teenagers on gap years are suddenly aware of the financial implications of what their parents have done to enable them to travel. "Some of them got very homesick and one said the only way she could cope was not to speak to her parents for up to three weeks at a time, she loved them so much.
"Another said: 'A massive bond occurred between me and my parents. It's not like we didn't get on but suddenly they were giving me respect and they changed from being parents to being friends." VSO, the international charity that recruits gappers to volunteer abroad, said: "Young people have often not had the chance to reflect on the challenges of life and how they have been sheltered from the harsh realities. They come back having seen the world in a different way."

'BSI 23 April 2007, Press Release. Safer adventure holidays and field trips for British abroad.'

Whether exploring the Amazon, attempting to scale Mount Everest or taking part in a gap year in Africa, a new British Standard has been launched today at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in response to increased calls to make overseas adventure activities safer. The British Standards Institution (BSI) has published BS 8848: A Specification for adventurous activities, expeditions, visits and fieldwork outside the UK. The new BSI standard has been developed for adventurous activities abroad with the aim of reducing the risk of injury or illness. It specifies requirements that have to be met by an organiser of adventurous trips conforming to good practice. It is aimed at expedition organisers, universities and other organisers of field trips, gap year travel companies and providers of adventurous holidays.
See http://www.bsi-global.com/en/About-BSI/News-Room/BSI-News-Content/General/News-Content/ for more details.

'Workers ditch commuting for globetrotting', Direct Line research, Feb 2007.

Millions of British workers are set to trade in their parking permit for a passport as they plan to take sabbaticals from work. Nearly 5.5 million employees* are currently contemplating their escape from the workplace, according to new research from Direct Line Travel Insurance. And they're set to join the ranks of the three million workers ** who have already temporarily climbed off the career ladder over the past five years.
Attracted by the benefits of working for firms that offer their staff time out, one in four employees (26 per cent) work for a company where sabbaticals are a staff perk. The government, public sector, finance and insurance industries are leading the way (40 per cent of employees working in these sectors are able to take sabbaticals) followed by IT and telecomms (36 per cent) and medicine/health service (25 per cent).
Employees offered sabbaticals by sector:
= 1. Government/ Public Sector (40 per cent)
= 1. Finance/ Insurance (40 per cent)
3. IT/ Telecommunications (36 per cent)
National average (26 per cent)
4. Medicine/ Health Services (25 per cent)
5. Education (24 per cent)
= 6. Travel/ Transport (22 per cent)
= 6. Construction (22 per cent)
8. Retail (14 per cent)
According to the Direct Line Travel Insurance research, wanderlust is the main reason why people are packing their bags - 43 per cent having always wanted to go travelling. However, one in three workers planning a sabbatical say they are looking to take a break from the rat race (30 per cent) and one in four claim to be suffering from burn out (23 per cent). Sabbaticals also appear to make sense for businesses, helping with recruitment and retention. One in four employees (24 per cent) said they would be more likely to work for a firm that offered sabbaticals, with one in three (33 per cent) saying they would be more likely to remain with a firm long-term if they knew they could take a career break. Despite this, not all firms are in favour of sabbaticals. More than one in 10 workers who have taken a sabbatical said that their employer was not supportive, with two thirds (64 per cent) of these revealing their boss had tried to prevent them from leaving. One in three quit their job completely for the freedom of travelling.
Chris Price, Business Manager at Direct Line Travel Insurance comments: "Taking an extended break from work used to be the preserve of a privileged few, but now more and more people are taking time out from their careers to travel. It seems that firms are recognising this desire and are offering sabbaticals as a way of recruiting and retaining the best staff.
For further information please contact:
Carmel McCarthy / Direct Line Press Office
0208 256 2178 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Notes to Editors:
Research was carried out online between 30 January and 1 February 2007 by YouGov Plc, who questioned a sample of 2,407 adults in Britain. Results are weighted to be representative of the GB population. YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council.
Notes to Editors:
* There are 44.2 million adults in Britain (Office for National Statistics). Sixty nine per cent of adults are in employment of whom 18 per cent are planning a sabbatical (YouGov). Therefore:
44,200,000 x 0.69 x 0.18 = 5,489,640
** There are 44.2 million adults in Britain (Office for National Statistics). Sixty nine per cent of adults are in employment of whom 10 per cent have taken a sabbatical (YouGov). Therefore:
44,200,000 x 0.69 x 0.1 = 3,094,800

'YouGov poll, reported in The Evening Standard 9 November 2006

School leavers should take seriously a new poll that shows that a university degree is no longer enough to get you the job you want. A gap year, however, may help. The YouGov poll, commissioned by volunteering organisation GVI, shows that though 58 per cent of managers agreed that "no degree adequately prepares a person for the world of work", 64 per cent said gap years would help prepare people to develop crucial work skills before they enter into their career.

'Milkround research on 3 July 2006 on Gap Years' (Extract)

Taking a gap year is a perennially popular option in this country, with an estimated 200,000 people between the ages of 18 and 25 taking time out to volunteer, travel or work each year - and getting involved in activities ranging from hiking Inca trails to volunteering in orphanages.
With a large number of our subscribers choosing to go on gap years, we decided to carry out a survey to ask them about their plans, and what they hoped to get out of it. We also surveyed candidates who had already been on gap years to ask them what the benefits had been for them; and asked candidates who were not going on a gap year, what the reason for their decision was.
As one would expect, we found enormous variety in terms of activities on gap years (although tending to fall into one of the categories of paid work, volunteering and travelling), and in terms of destinations (ranging from the UK to locations all over the world), and in the reasons why students and graduates chose to go on gap years, and the benefits which candidates felt they had gained from doing so.
Respondents were nearly unanimous however in citing their gap year as beneficial to their careers and to their personal development, and in hoping to gain professional and personal skills (or declaring that they had done, if they had been on a gap year in the past).
378 students and graduates answered the poll. In the first part of this report we cover the different activities and destinations of gappers; while in the second we look at the reasons for going and the benefits gained from gap year activities.
See http://www.milkround.com/s4/jobseekers/zones/gap%5Fyear/ for more details.

'The Chancellor's Pre-Budget Report, 5 December 2005

'Funding gap years in Britain and abroad':
The Government is joining with seven of Britain's leading companies to launch the country's first national youth community service - with up to £100 million of initial finance, it will fund gap years volunteering in Britain and abroad for young people who could otherwise not afford this - and fund part time and full time community service in every constituency.

'Gap Year Travel', report from Mintel, July 2005 - http://www.mintel.com

'Denture Venturers' and 'Career Gappers':
A new age for gap year travel
Latest research from MINTEL's Travel and Tourism Analyst shows that older 'Career Gappers' and 'Denture Venturers' are giving students a run for their money in the multi-billion pound global gap year market. Having only really taken off in the early 1990s, the global gap year market is now worth a substantial £5 billion, accounting for between 1 and 1.5 million trips a year. What is more, by 2010, an estimated 2 million gap year trips will be made by travellers from around the world, with total expenditure more than doubling to a staggering £11 billion. "The growing popularity of gap year travel is showing no signs of abating. But MINTEL believes that it will be the increasing number of older adults such as 'Career Gappers', taking a break from work or 'Denture Venturers' going on pre-retirement travels, who will in fact boost the market in the future," comments Jessica Rawlinson, Publishing Manager, International Travel and Tourism at MINTEL.
"Here at gapyear.com we have seen a similar shift in the age of gap year travellers. Changing work patterns, from life-long to more 'portfolio' careers, has enabled a wider number of people to take career breaks between jobs. Employers today are also undoubtedly becoming increasingly aware of the value of longer periods of international travel. As a result, many 25 - 35 year olds are temporarily opting out of working life before they settle into another job, buy a house or perhaps even start a family. In addition, rising numbers of older people in the population of developed countries, together with the increased health and wealth of this age group, has helped to spawn pre-retirement gap travellers. Indeed an ever increasing number of 50 - 55 year olds are 'ski-ing' - spending the kids inheritance - and becoming so-called 'Denture Venturers'," comments Tom Griffiths, founder of gapyear.com.
British gappers show the world the way:
Remarkably, UK gappers account for half of all expenditure within this booming sector. Today, the British gap year travel market comprises approximately 1% of all UK outbound trips and around 10% of outbound travel expenditure. In total, the UK market for 18-24-year-old travellers is estimated to be around 200,000. But this market is set to grow; with more young people being involved in tertiary education and increasing numbers of students each year opting to take a year out. Amazingly however, there are now almost as many British pre-retirement gappers as pre-university gappers.
Gap year travel: A £5000 spending spree:
Whilst gap travellers do not spend huge amounts on a day to day basis, the long duration of their trips means that total expenditure is usually well above the average for overseas travel. Today, the average gap year traveller spends around £4,800, but the most extravagant group is the 'Career Gappers', as they can shell out almost double this (£9,000) on their gap year. "As 'Career Gappers' have already spent several years working, they usually have greater disposable income to raise the funds for volunteering, courses or expeditions than pre-university gappers. What is more, as volunteers, they bring more experience than students who are travelling immediately after they leave school. And while they often do not yet have too many financial and personal responsibilities, they can afford to spend more than pre-retirement gappers," explains Jessica Rawlinson. On a positive note, the money spent on these travels is invaluable for local economies. Gap travellers tend to stay in locally-run accommodation and buy locally-produced goods and so a greater percentage of each pound, dollar, or whatever currency spent remains in the country visited.

Please note that all information contained in this website article is
owned exclusively by Mintel and governed by Mintel's terms and
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report, please contact the Emily Measor on 0207 606 6000. 

The Russell Commission, March 2005.

With sound recommendations on international volunteering in gap years, including:
* The need to show a clear link to UK volunteering
* The requirement to be responsive directly to real community needs
* To be accessible to all


The 'Review of Gap Year Provision' report, published 29 July 2004.

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RB555.pdf
Commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) on gap years, it was carried out by Dr Andrew Jones from Birkbeck College, University of London. The main issues addressed were:
* defining what a gap year is
* national levels of participation
* the benefits and disadvantages of undertaking different kinds of activities on a gap year
* a survey of the organisations that provide gap year opportunities
* existing standards and approaches to quality assurance in gap year provision.

IDS HR Studies Update 776, June 2004.

http://www.incomesdata.co.uk/studies/careerbreaks.htm
Career breaks and sabbaticals - gap years.
'Looks at the growing demand from employees for career breaks.
Shows how employers consider these requests.
Discusses the impact on pensions and other employee benefits.
Looks at arrangements for staying in touch with employees on career breaks.
Describes the typical terms on which they eventually return to their job.
Includes details of sabbatical and career break schemes in 19 organisations.
Many employees now want the flexibility to take an extended period away from work to travel abroad, study, look after children or older relatives, or simply to recharge their batteries. Employers are increasingly accommodating such requests by offering career breaks or sabbaticals.
Career break schemes give employers the discretion to retain valued employees who want to take a significant amount of time, perhaps years, away from work to focus on these other aspects of their lives. Employees are not paid during this time, but have the right to return to work or at least to apply for re-engagement on favourable terms.
Sabbaticals are much rarer and are normally offered for shorter periods, typically up to three months, as a reward for continuous service with the employer. Employees can choose what to do with the time, and there tend to be very few restrictions. Individuals remain employed, sometimes on full pay, and return automatically to their job at the end of the sabbatical.
This in-depth article is the lead feature article in the June 2004 IDS HR Studies Update.'
IDS Customer Services on 020 7324 2599 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. can provide further information.

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