Gap year ski opportunities
20th August 2010
A level results are out and it’s good news for some and bad news for others. Many students are heading off on a gap year and a growing number seem to be doing skiing and snowboarding instruction courses. So, is it the dream they think it will be?
The growth in Gap year courses in the past few years to qualify as an instructor has been phenomenal. They seem to be springing up all over the place.
On the surface it seems ideal.
The student goes on an 8-week course and at the end walks away with a qualification to teach skiing or snowboarding.
They have good coaching, are able to shadow a ski school to gain experience and are then assessed by trainers from the Britsh Association of Snowsports Instructors, BASI, to see if they are up to scratch.
The majority pass.
They have enormous fun, make friends for life and, as well as being in a ski resort, the courses are often held in interesting and adventurous parts of the world.
2 years ago PlanetSKI was in Argentina following a course run by one of the best providers, Peak Leaders.See this series of blogs on what it was like if you want a taste.
However, things have changed slightly since then.
In short there is not nearly as much work around for ski and snowboard instructors as there used to be and competition for jobs is fierce.
Now don’t get us wrong as here at PlanetSKI we reckon it is a great thing to do, but you need to realise it is not all it promises to be.
Last year in Verbier no-one on one of the gap year courses being run in the resort was able to get a job in Verbier at the end of it.
There simply wasn’t enough work available for the local ski schools to hire freshly qualified students.
The chances are you will be able to get work at the busy periods of New Year and Half term, but precious little else.
Many people who want to do teaching in their gap year now get their qualification beforehand.
On a recent Level 1 BASI course we followed at the Hemel Hempstead indoor ski slope the vast majority were 16 and 17 year olds getting qualified before their gap year so they could go straight into teaching.
For our article on the course see here.
The gap year ski instructing courses cost around £8,000 so they don’t come cheap.
But students don’t just want to do ski and snowboard instructor qualifications; there are many opportunities on offer for people at the moment.
From voluntary work to paid employment.One company that helps students find this sort of experience is Real Gap.
‘A well-chosen gap year which incorporates work experience or volunteering can certainly help to provide that bit of differentiation for university applications and prepare them more for an independent life at university away from their family,” says the marketing director of the company, Natasha Owen
“Real Gap offers a diverse range of trips and courses from learning Spanish in Costa Rica to paid work in Canada that will not only help to boost CVs and develop skills but will also be a lot of fun.’
Now we can’t comment on the exact nature of the company as we haven’t experienced them at first hand but we have heard good things about them from PlanetSKI readers.
Remember though that do read between the lines of all these companies and ask yourself what they are getting out of it and question how much they charge and what you get for your money.
We have been reading some of the web sites that offer gap year ski instruction courses and very few seem to mention the reality of ski teaching for those with just a basic qualification.
It only allows you to teach in a limited number of ski resorts and work is on a very part-time basis for most.
However, if you want to do it then here at PlanetSKI we recommend you go for it – just realise the reality.
See this blog from our content editor who has worked in Verbier an a sk instructor for the past 5 years. Sometimes for the whole season and other times just for a few weeks.