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Record numbers of school leavers planning gap year

The number of Finnish high school leavers planning to take a gap year is at a record level, according to a new survey.

Ylioppilas ylioppilaslakki.
Finnish high school students get their caps this week. Image: Kaisa Siren / AOP

Some 30 percent of high school leavers plan to take a gap year, according to a new survey by the Economic Information Office, a think tank funded by the industrial employers lobby group the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK).

Some 11,000 pupils at high schools and vocational schools answered the survey.

The results run counter to government strategy, which aims to get young people to take fewer gap years and to enter working life at younger ages.

The survey found that as many as one in four high school students had not yet made a decision about further study by the time they'd left school.

Researcher Liisa Tenhunen-Ruotsalainen said that those under-30s without clear plans are often those most at risk of marginalisation. Alvar Euro of the Union of Upper Secondary Students said that gap years are not necessarily a problem.

"Aimless gap years are concerning and something should be done about them," said Euro. "Do they indicate that pressure and workload in high school are pretty heavy?"

The survey also showed that those students in upper secondary school are less interested than in any of the 10 previous annual surveys in studying at universities of applied sciences. Some 36 percent said they'd consider that option, while 81 percent were thinking about going to university.

Finnish high school graduates' lists are published this week, with the annual rankings of high schools up and down the country also set to appear in Finnish media.

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