06 February 2007
by Lucy Ward
The pressures of getting on the property ladder and holding on to a good job are preventing professionals in their 30s and 40s from taking time out to volunteer in developing countries.
The international development charity VSO today reveals it has encountered a sharp fall in the number of so-called "Generation X-ers" offering their time for a year or two to share their skills overseas.
Instead, their places are being filled by "golden gappers" - older people taking gap years later in their career, or following early retirement. The proportion of VSO volunteers in their late 20s, 30s and 40s has declined from nearly 79% of the total in 2000 to 48% in 2006. The majority of VSO placements are now filled by the over-50s, whose numbers made up just 21% of the total in 2000.
However, VSO warns that volunteer placements requiring recently qualified professionals are being left unfilled.
Judith Brodie, director of VSO UK, said: "Older volunteers bring a wealth of experience but we also need people mid-career who can take up placements in perhaps more challenging countries."
VSO was now targeting younger people with more flexible placements, and is encouraging employers to grant sabbaticals to help with job security, she added.