The number of applications to ‘Year in Industry’ schemes has increased by over 45% from pre-University students.
The ‘Year in Industry’ (YINI) scheme, which is run by education charity EDT, suggests that sponsorship from companies is luring students to opt for this type of gap year.
Chris Ward, national director for YINI, said: “We are finding that there are three main motivators for our applicants this year, all of which reflect the tougher environment for students.
“The first motivation is recognition that a good degree is no longer enough and that work experience is crucial if they are to access good careers.
“Allied to this is an awareness that many top employers draw substantially from those students that they have seen already on work placements, internships and gap years. Many of these employers take students through ‘The Year in Industry’.
“The second motivation is that students are keen to be able to win sponsorship for their degrees. Typically around a quarter of students completing ‘The Year in Industry’ attract support for their degrees from the companies they have been working with.
“As well as the salary that this gap year attracts, applicants are looking for this potential extra income from sponsorship or other support to help defray the cost of a degree.
“The final motivation, which we are seeing particularly strongly this year, is that students want to be absolutely certain about the degree that they are applying for.
“Within broad subject areas there are a wide range of alternative degrees and students are making sure that they are matching their degree choice to the commercial realities they see on their working gap year.
“Many students decide to apply for their degree during their gap year rather than secure a deferred entry earlier on. This ensures they have some commercial insights before they make their degree choice.”
Ward suggests the cost of university education is causing potential students to make shrewder decisions, and taking a more focused attitude.
He said: ““We have seen a step change in the approach that students are taking to university and their future careers.
“They are taking a much more hard headed approach to maximising their career prospects and to ensuring they get maximum value out of their degrees. These changes have been driven by the cost of gaining a degree, a cost which they now seen as an investment on which there must be a good return.”
Michael Stirrup, finance and HR director at IT firm Waterstons, said: “We have seen a tremendous rise in the number of applicants applying for our year in industry vacancies.
“Waterstons recruit heavily from the graduate market and the YII provides us with the chance to really get to know the undergraduate and for them to get to know Waterstons.
“We take on a lot of our YII students once they graduate. The YII also provides us with a chance to develop the undergraduates so upon finishing their final year at University they slot back in to the Waterstons team hitting the ground running.”
Bdaily spoke to a former Northumbria University student, who said: “It was vital in finding the job I have now.
“Without the experience of my year in work, I wouldn’t have the skills and experience necessary for work.
“I think it benefited me as the student, and the employer, in equal measure. They gained a young person with fresh ideas and perspective, and I gained the experience and contacts to take away from it.”