The gap generation

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Boosting CVs with a gap year that contains giving something back is more important than ever, says Jeremy Gates.

As the cost of going to university soars, a growing number of school-leavers and young adults will gain valuable experience of the wider world by taking part in volunteering and conservation projects in 2013, according to youth travel specialists STA Travel.

A survey commissioned by the company found that 40 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds are considering booking a volunteering trip as part of their travel plans next year. Among 25 to 34 age group, 32 per cent are eyeing a volunteering element to their travels.

The wish to “give something back and do something meaningful” while travelling was the key driver for this.

Relatively high youth unemployment in the UK is also a key factor, forcing young people to look at ways of bolstering their CVs to stand out in a crowded job search market. Among the younger group, 41 per cent cite the need to boost a CV as the primary reason for joining a volunteering or educational project overseas.

Laurence Bresh, STA Travel marketing director, says: “Young people have used travel to broaden their horizons for years, but this avenue has become more formal with most people booking a gap year keen to incorporate some sort of skill and CV-boosting activity while they’re away.”

The price of STA volunteering projects start at £299 for teaching children in Guatemala for seven days. From £389, plus the cost of return flights, STA offers the chance to join a seven-day Elephant Conservation project in Thailand.

The price includes on-site accommodation in volunteer huts, meals, and transfers to and from Chiang Mai airport.

In Fiji, STA’s 15-day teaching projects in the Yasawa Islands, from £1,095, provide help to local teachers and a chance to fully immerse yourself in Fijian culture.

This community specifically requested help with English, maths, science, sports and the arts. The package price includes accommodation in shared huts, transfers from Fiji to the islands and all meals.

Joining volunteering projects in New Zealand and Australia in 2013 could also become easier following the announcement by BUNAC, the volunteer abroad specialist, that it is the exclusive provider of a new quota of IEP Work Exchange Visas to allow 18- to 35-year-old British or Irish citizens to live and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months.

A limited number of IEP visas will be made available in January and allocated on a first-come first-served basis, at a cost of £165, including a £30 administration fee. Visit for further details.