Consider the Benefits of a Value-Added Gap Year

By Richard Patey / April 25, 2014

As Thousands of School Leavers Decide What to Do Next, Consider the Benefits of a Value-Added Gap Year

Over the next couple of months and after years of hard work, students all over the UK will be taking their A level exams and leaving school behind to start their adult lives. And with the shackles of secondary education finally unlocked, the big question for many is what to do next.  Whilst some will head straight to university and others into full time employment, more than 25,000 British students each year choose to take a gap year. 

The gap year phenomenon began in the 1960s as part of the decade’s post war, social revolution, the essence being about discovering new challenges and experiences and increasing one’s knowledge and appreciation for different cultures and traditions. It was those well-trodden hippie trail pilgrimages that set a precedent for backpackers for years to come. In the 1980s and early nineties, gap years morphed into ‘gap yahs’ and the privilege of a year off was seen as the preserve of upper-middle-class, private school leavers. In the 21st century however, this tradition has become a rite of passage for people from all backgrounds with many top employers and universities actively encouraging it.

A value-added gap year, where you learn a specific skill, can be hugely beneficial in educational and career terms. This offers so much more than simply ‘finding yourself’. In one study, school leavers participating in paid or voluntary work were seen to grow in maturity, gain confidence and greatly improve themselves in knowledge and life skills.

For many teenagers, the ultimate, value-added, gap year thrill would be to spend it on the ski slopes so consider the chance to train as a snow sports instructor. As well as valuable skills training, this is also, most importantly, a whole lot of fun.

Snoworks, Britain’s first ever ‘ski courses’ company, has been offering professional snow sports instructor training for 8 years.  The idea is that you train pre-season on the snow sure Tignes glacier (beginning in late October) so that you’re ready to work that winter. Forget the daily slog of the chalet hosts and bar staff, the monotony of being a lifty or resort driver and the constant, banging, hangover– becoming a ski instructor provides an opportunity to spend all day, every day on the mountain.

Snoworks provides an intensive 8-week training programme, with experienced instructors, where students build up to the BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructors) level 1 and 2 exam courses. Learning in small groups, the focus is firstly on fine-tuning your own technique, which in turn helps you recognize the improvements needed in others. You then move on to race training and basic off piste procedures, all followed up with video feedback analysis. The latter part of the course involves shadowing another instructor in busy, group lesson environments.

And whilst the course isn’t cheap at £7,495 per person, there are bespoke options available and it’s all inclusive with comfortable half board accommodation and all ski passes as part of the package. At the end of all this you’ll be a qualified instructor and they even help with job applications. So you could ski out of Tignes and onto the pistes of Japan, Italy, Austria or Switzerland. ‘You won’t find teaching better than Snoworks’ said a recent qualifier.

Written by Laura Willing

About the author

Richard Patey

Skier & boarder by day, internet marketing warrior by night :) Did a ski season with Gav in Whistler back in the day and now live between Norwich UK & Jasna SK