In recent years, more and more school-leavers and students ending their tertiary education are taking gap years. A year off is meant to be meaningful, aiding you to discover your interests and talents for your future career. It also helps you focus fully once you’re back, says Parent24.
However, according to DeWet Schoeman, the progamme leader and director of the Centre for Applied Entrepreneurship at the University of Stellenbosch Executive Development division (USB-ED), this isn’t always the case. Many gap-year programmes in South Africa do not provide structured goals participants.
Are gap years good?
Yes and no. A gap year can provide plenty of opportunities for you to experience new cultures, learn a language, discover a hidden passion or develop skills critical for both the workplace and life. Gap Year Association notes that 90% of students that take gap years return to tertiary education within one year while 84% of students claim that their gap years have helped them acquire pertinent skills for their careers.
But not all gap years are equal. “Some gap years are not structured with guidance,” says Schoeman. “Students sometimes find that after a gap-year opportunity, they still don’t know what they want to do.”
A productive gap-year opportunity
To provide students with a gap-year opportunity that’s tailored to their need to find focus for their future, USB-ED offers a year-long Young Minds Entrepreneurship programme. “This gap-year opportunity is meant to provide a year that is as productive as possible,” explains Schoeman. “It helps participants discover who they are, what their goals are and how to reach these goals.” It can also foster a lifelong love of learning.
The programme also helps the participant understand that doors will open once they take the initial steps themselves. “The focus of the one-year course is to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and to help someone find their feet, to get to know him- or herself and the direction they want to go in life.”
What to expect from USB-ED’s gap-year opportunity
The Young Minds programme comprises six months of formal education and classes in Stellenbosch and six months of in-service training at participants’ existing networks, such as their workplace. Throughout the in-service period, participants will still receive coaching and mentoring.
In previous years, participants of the gap-year programme have gone on to open their own businesses in various fields. One such example is Jéan Johnson from Beaufort West whose Karoo Deli, which he opened alongside his brother, is responsible for central distribution of meat products in Paarl. Another participant, Nina Bezuidenhout of Paarl was uncertain of her future but since completing the qualification at USB-ED, she has studied clothing and textile technology with plans to gain experience internationally.
Ready to take on your own gap-year opportunity? USB-ED’s Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme can help you find focus and make the most of your gap year. For more on this course and others, click here.