WITH the chances of being able to travel abroad on a gap year quickly disappearing, 2020 school leavers are being encouraged to spend the time in their own backyard. The opportunity for a local gap year is shaping as an ideal prospect for many, with strong job prospects across Western NSW. Being able to work and travel across the region, increase skill levels and boost savings towards future overseas trips or first year university costs are just some of the benefits people can look forward to. Minister for Regional Youth, Bronnie Taylor, and Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, recently announced a Regional Gap Year campaign which is aimed at providing opportunities for young people. With the Central West and Western NSW experiencing a shortage of workers across a number of industries including hospitality, agriculture, tourism and trades, Mr Barilaro said there had never been a better time to take a local gap year. "Regional NSW is on track for recovery, but we desperately need a helping hand to support businesses on that journey and the campaign launched will connect young people with the great variety of jobs and experiences on offer," he said. "It's great to see so many people holidaying in regional NSW and enjoying country hospitality, but it's also clear that there aren't enough staff to fill tourism and hospitality positions. READ MORE: "We want to remind young people that a Regional NSW Gap Year is a chance for career development and adventure and with thousands of jobs, there's something for everyone, from fruit picking in Armidale, to pulling a beer in Ballina, to taking tours in Tamworth." The campaign's website has a range of tools and advice for those looking to take a gap year break in regional NSW and helping them to find work and plan ahead for a safe, fun and rewarding experience. Aimed at young people aged 17 to 24, Mrs Taylor said a Regional NSW Gap Year offers young people all the benefits of a traditional overseas trip without the hassle of a passport or the expense of plane tickets. "People who have spent their youth working in regional communities often say it's those adventures that have shaped their identities, given them lifelong connections and provided them with life skills they've taken from the bush to the boardroom," she said. "The job opportunities are diverse, often with better pay then you might expect and I know that young workers will be welcomed with open arms by regional communities where people will recognise the contribution they provide." We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.