Published 23rd October 2017

We could talk all day and night about the benefits of travelling and teaching abroad, but how do employers feel about taking on recruits who’ve recently enjoyed a gap year? In short, they love it – according to the 2,000 UK employers we surveyed.

44% of employers have hired someone who has taken a gap year, and 94% said they would be open to taking on a candidate who had done the same. It seems that many potential employers appreciate the skills that often come with well-travelled employees: 65% said they would expect these individuals to have gained more independence.

The results also highlighted the importance of languages in the modern workplace, with 43% of employers admitting they would be happy to pay bilingual or multilingual candidates a higher salary.

Experience versus education

There’s that classic choice when coming to the end of college or sixth form: do you go to uni, or do a gap year?

Many of our survey respondents, who were sourced from a wide spectrum of sectors, felt skills learned at university don’t prepare people for the reality of the working world. Which suggests a gap year or simply working abroad for a few years might be a better choice.

Especially for someone looking to become something like a sales rep or HR manager: science and pharmaceuticals (64%), sales (62%), performance arts (60%) and HR (60%) are all industries that shared the view that university isn’t good prep for full-time work.

Overall, 41% of employers have hired an employee without a degree but with the right experience, and 48% would if given the chance. So, while having a gap year under your belt won’t guarantee you a job, it can give your CV the edge over the competition if it has given you the right experience.

Working with children was viewed as the best way to spend a gap year by employers from the business industry, as well as law enforcement and security. Law enforcement respondents also said they sought individuals with strong communication skills the most (75%).

For the environment and agriculture industries, teaching abroad during a gap year was most valued according to 68% of employers. Employers in publishing and journalism (64%), teaching and education (65%), and social care (57%) consider language skills to be most valuable in the workplace.

Never too late

It seems there’s a small trend when employer age is considered. Younger employers are more open to taking on gap year hires: 46% of employers aged 25-34 have hired gap year employees, compared with 41% of over 55s.

When it came to sabbaticals, it was encouraging to see 41% of employers would let employees take a break to travel, versus 18% who stated they wouldn’t allow this.

Much like a gap year, taking a sabbatical can be a fantastic way to attain new skills, reflect on what you’ve done and where you want your career to go next. Time will tell if we continue to see a more positive response towards sabbaticals and an increase in their uptake.

What does it all mean?

Our research shows that for the large part, individuals with experience working abroad or having a gap year under their belt were far more attractive to potential employers than their less-travelled counterparts. It seems they really don’t mind the gap.