New research has revealed that younger workers are far more likely to have taken time out of work than older colleagues.

A reported 47 percent of Gen Z have a career gap, compared to 33 percent of workers across the UK as a whole, pointing to a rising trend for “gap careers”.

The study also found that younger workers are more likely to encounter hiring bias based on their future family plans.

At some point during a recruitment process, almost a third (30%) of Gen Z workers had been asked whether or not they have children, or plan to have children in the future, compared to just 17 percent of the total population.

Younger workers use ‘gap careers’ to travel, start businesses and learn

Gen Z workers are far more likely to start their own businesses during career gaps, compared to Boomers. Just 2 percent of workers aged 55+ said that they launched a business during their career break, versus 11 percent of 18-24 year olds.

Also, 18-24 year olds are also 4x more likely to take career gaps to travel, compared to workers aged 45-54.

Just 3 percent of workers aged 45-54 said that they took time out of work to travel, versus 12 percent of Gen Z workers surveyed.

Also, 11 percent of Gen Z cited further education as their reason for taking time out of work, versus 7 percent of the wider population, and just 1% of Boomers.

By contrast, 15 percent of Boomers put career gaps down to redundancy, versus just 6 percent of Gen Z workers.

The rise of ‘gap careers’ amongst younger workers 

The popularity and productivity of career gaps amongst younger workers highlights how perceptions around the role of work is changing amongst younger generations.

The findings suggest young people no longer see opportunities for personal development as limited to traditional gap years, and are looking to weave new opportunities into their working lives, instead.

In fact, 67 percent of Gen Z workers felt confident that they’d gained new skills, or enhanced their existing skill set during their career gap, versus 51% of the wider population.

Yet there appears to be a disconnect between employers’ and younger workers’ perceptions of career gaps. Also, 61 percent of Gen Z workers would rather not tell prospective employers about their career gap, pointing to fears around the prejudice they might face. Just over a third of Boomers shared this fear. Additionally, 35 percent of over 55s would rather not tell prospective employers about career gaps.

Companies called on to reduce career break bias

To reduce stigma around career breaks the #DontMindTheCareerGap campaign is calling on employers to ask for CVs which show length of tenure in each role, rather than specific dates. This means candidates can be judged on their experience and avoid career gap prejudice.

When CV dates are replaced with the number of years experience, call-back rates for candidates improve by 14 percent compared to candidates with a ‘gap’ on their CV.

The campaign is being led by de-biased hiring experts, Applied, and Women Returners, a service that helps women back into work following career gaps.

Khyati Sundaram, CEO of Applied, comments:

“We want employers to help level the playing field for all candidates by evolving their application process so that candidates with career gaps cannot be screened out of the process early. By removing employment start and end dates from CVs, and using a skills-based hiring model, employers can build an inclusive hiring process that empowers all candidates to showcase their skills – no matter where, how, or when they gained them. The notion of ‘skill-fade’ during a career gap is a fallacy and we want to ensure all candidates are given a fair and equal chance to succeed.”

Julianne Miles, co-founder and CEO of Women Returners, comments:

“We’re delighted to be working with Applied on this important campaign to end career gap stigma. We have been working with employers for many years to challenge the career break penalty and to promote inclusive hiring practices that recognise the skills, experience and fresh perspectives that career returners can bring to organisations. Embracing returners is a necessity for employers, the economy and society if we are to tackle skills shortages, close the gender pay gap and build a strong and diverse workforce.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.