Many people decide to take a year out after school and take a break from education before deciding whether to go to university, to college or get a job.

You can do a variety of activities in your gap year. Some people choose to work, some go travelling, some do projects in far off lands and some do work placements and internships.

Gap years are a brilliant way of meeting new people and doing new and exciting things, as well as taking a break from education or work. This section offers information and advice about what to do and where to do it.

Volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to learn new skills and share the skills you have. You can make a real difference to people living in the toughest circumstances. You get a chance to work creatively, stretch your capabilities, take more responsibility and have new professional skills and experiences to offer an employer. Read CSV’s report on the advantages of volunteering.  

Here you will find information on Volunteering in the UK, Volunteering Abroad and Working Abroad.

More guidance and resources can be found at our pages on International career opportunities.

Volunteering in the UK

  • CSV (Community Service Volunteers) trains over 12,000 young people and adults each year, helping them build the skills and confidence they need to progress to further education or employment or to set up in business. Volunteer for up to a year with CSV. Gap year volunteering before university will enhance your UCAS application, make you more independent and develop your social skills. Gap year volunteering in the UK after university will help you build on what you’ve learnt with some real life experience and could help you find that elusive first job.  
  • Volunteering England is a volunteer development agency committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. Their work links research, policy innovation, good practice and grant making in the involvement of volunteers. 

Volunteering Abroad

  • VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) is a leading development charity that sends volunteers to work abroad. Find out more about volunteering roles and voluntary jobs overseas, including specifically about volunteering for 18-25 year olds.
  • Challenges Worldwide is an international development charity and award winning social enterprise. They recruit volunteers with professional skills and experience and train them to work with local overseas partners in developing countries.
  • Gap Guru provides gap year projects, supporting local communities and organisations through ethical and sustainable programmes.
  • Inspire Volunteers help communities abroad, using their skills while on a career break they volunteer overseas, teach English abroad, work in childcare, women´s empowerment or other community based projects.
  • Project Trust places volunteers to work overseas for a year out, aimed at 17-19 year old school leavers in full time education. Types of work include social services, English teaching, outdoor activity and community development schemes. There are projects in over 25 non-European countries.

Working Abroad

  • Overseas Job Centre - a guide to working, travelling and living abroad, working holidays and gap years.