It pays to have a gap year before uni

MORE young people are taking a year off between high school and university - but to work, not play.

New research shows about a quarter of young Australians took a gap year after completing Year 12 in 2008 -  up from 10 per cent a decade  earlier.

However, researchers found people who took a year off ended up falling behind their peers who went straight to university in terms of earnings, course completion and job outcomes. Most gap-takers worked part-time (28 per cent) or full-time (23 per cent) while about 10 per cent took up non-university study.

Just 6 per cent used the time off to travel.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research used data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth which tracks people aged 15 to 25 as they move from school into further study and work.

"Those who don't take a gap year are substantially more likely at age 24 to be employed full-time and to work in professional occupations than gap-takers," the  report says. "One of the  reasons identified for young people taking a gap year is economic - to undertake paid work to raise funds for supporting themselves during later study."

But the report notes other research has found gap-takers are generally happier, have wider interests and are better able to socialise with a diverse range of people.

They also picked up skills like financial management and foreign languages.

Among the more than 5000 Australian Year 12 students interviewed in 2008 about their post-school plans, 2438 said they would go straight to university, 478 into apprenticeships or traineeships, 449 to TAFE, 744 into work and 514 planned to take a gap year.

Slightly more girls than boys took time off and gap-takers were more likely to be poorer academic performers.

Students of the arts, culture and natural sciences were more likely to take a gap year.

SA Tertiary Admissions Centre figures show about one in five South Australian Year 12 students opted for a gap year this year. Australian gap company Letz Live, which offers overseas gap placements, says the most popular destination is the UK but interest in Asian countries is growing.   (adelaidenow.com.au)


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