The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is to pay for 500 graduates to go on expeditions abroad with Raleigh International. According to Higher Education Minister David Lammy, the trips will help recent graduates to develop ‘the communication and leadership skills that are so highly valued in the workplace.’
The scheme is open to those who graduated in 2008 or 2009 and who are able to prove that a Raleigh International expedition would be beyond their means without a bursary. For every successful applicant, the government and Raleigh will each provide £1000. The graduates will be expected to raise another £1000 themselves, and to pay for flights, vaccinations and kit.
Travellers are offered 10 weeks in Borneo, Costa Rica, India or Nicaragua; and will participate in local projects such as school-building. Raleigh also promise to host a skills workshop run by their corporate partners upon the graduates’ return.
Whilst the initiative has gained plenty of headlines, critics have accused the government of attempting to manipulate youth unemployment figures. However NUS president Wes Streeting praised the move, telling the BBC: ‘funding opportunities for skills development is surely better than the soul-destroying experience of sitting at home on the dole.’