Gen Zers are fueling ‘gap career’ trend — but how will that affect career development?

Most people have heard of, if not taken, a “gap year” — a term that typically refers to 12 months between high school and higher education when textbooks are swapped for low-paid jobs to fund exciting and life-enhancing adventures in distant destinations. But now there is a new twist: “Gap careers” are on the rise, especially for Gen Zers, a new study suggests.

Like gap years, gap careers tend to feature extended travel experiences in far-flung places. They also involve learning things that enrich people’s careers and can mean, for some, starting a business. The main difference between the two is timing: Gap years are taken before the first meaningful step on a career path, while gap careers happen — as one might guess — between jobs. So will a career break for sun, snow, sand, sea and skills put someone at a disadvantage when they want to return to work?

Almost half (47%) of U.K. Gen Zers have taken a career gap of six months or more, according to research commissioned by ethical hiring organization Applied and social enterprise Women Returners.

The research, undertaken as part of a campaign aiming to end the stigma surrounding career breaks, indicated that young people no longer view personal development as limited to traditional gap years. Instead, many are seeking to thread new opportunities into their working lives. However, given that resume holes are still considered suspicious by many prospective employers, is a gap career a good idea?

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in February 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.