A Lack of Gap Year Options Means Earlier Career Decisions

  |   Blog

School leavers in 2020 have endured uncertainty and setbacks. They had to contend with remote learning, not knowing if exams would proceed not to mention cancelled schoolies celebrations. But for many, the greatest disappointment is the loss of a gap year spent travelling overseas.

With the COVID-19 virus raging in most countries and Australia’s international borders closed, students no longer have the option of backpacking their way around the world. Students are being forced to make career decisions before they leave school rather than defer the decision for a year.

And it’s not just 2020’s school leavers that will be impacted by COVID-19. It’s estimated that international travel won’t recommence for a few years so we’ll see more students stay in Australia and study or work after leaving school.

The Popularity of the Gap Year

In the past, thousands of young Australians would head off after their final school year to discover the world (and possibly themselves).

The gap year was a popular option amongst school leavers in recent years until the pandemic put paid to international travel. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research estimated that approximately 25% of Australian students take a gap year after high school before commencing further education. Having a year off was the perfect opportunity to decide what further study or work they want to do when they return to Australia.

Only a small number use the whole year to travel, many take on a part or full time job to enjoy their first taste of a decent income. But the jobless figures show Australians aged between 15 and 24 have been hardest hit by the pandemic with the youth unemployment rate increasing to 14.5% (an increase of 2.7 points over the year to September 2020).

Deciding What to Study

With international travel off the table and increased difficulty in finding employment, it’s expected that a larger number of high school graduates will do further studies after school. But not all students know what they want to study when they finish school. And it’s not a decision that should be made lightly.

Starting a university course and deciding six months (or even years down the track) it isn’t right for them, can be one of the most expensive mistakes of their life. A full year of tertiary study can cost as much as $11,355 for a domestic student. While the cost can be deferred through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), it still needs to be repaid and that often occurs when young adults have other financial commitments.

With many 2021 school leavers expected to start university degrees and TAFE courses the following year, there will be a greater need for career counsellors to help students decide on the right course for them.

For many high school students career planning can cause anxiety. They know the career they choose can impact on many facets of their life. Schools can ease the anxiety of students and their parents by providing access to Career Voyage. The world-class software program helps students find careers they love and make decisions based on reliable information. Career Voyage is already an invaluable resource in over 300 Australian high schools.

If you would like to know more about how Career Voyage can help high school students, call us on 08 9440 5333 or contact us online.