Service Year Improves Workforce

12plus1 believes in the transformative impact of a service year.  The experience of serving others is beneficial to the participant, those they serve and society.  In fact, we recommend that a year of service should be something every young adult should choose before entering the workforce.  A culture that values service will promote respect, understanding and unity.  Service encourages sacrifice for a greater cause.  An individual who makes a commitment to service will be a better citizen and employee.  There are opportunities and qualities a service year will provide prospective employees that cannot be attained in other ways.  This is why we suggest that businesses support a service year movement because it will improve the quality of employees available to them.  Here are some of the qualities a service year will provide young adults who will be entering the workforce:


  • Life Experience

Every employer wants to hire a candidate who is well-rounded and has a variety of experiences to draw upon.   Young adults who enter the workforce may have the necessary educational experience but often are missing some basic life skills that can come with experience.  Common sense skills such as resilience, creativity, conflict resolution, cooperation can be lacking.  Service provides experience in a variety of ways.  Being a service volunteer through 12plus1, individuals will participate in all aspects of the organization.  They will have professional hands on experience in administration, program, marketing and communication.  Meeting monthly with a mentor and regular assessments conducted by the service site supervisor and 12plus1 staff will help them process their experience and grow professionally.  The participants will have handled specific work place situations.  Service also will allow them to build relationships with and learn from many diverse people.  


  • Develops Character

A person of character is one who acts with integrity and has the ability to elevate their skills in the challenging situations.  Often one does not know their own character until they have to discover what they have in reserve.  Making a commitment to a service year is an adventure.  One cannot be certain of all that the journey will entail, but it will challenge them to reach deep and believe in themselves.  They will see problems that are overwhelming, issues that are paralyzing, find themselves out of their element, live simply in community with strangers and find the ability to adjust their lifestyle.  The mentoring, assessments and living in community will receive provide the feedback they need to grow as a professional.  Participants will depart the experience with an understanding of what it means to be responsible and professional.  If they are able to succeed they will emerge with confidence that only exists by finding the character in themselves, they never knew existed.


  • Develops Emotional Intelligence

No employer wants a staff member who will melt down when things do not go as planned- because they almost never do!  Individuals who have spent a year working in the non-profit sector will be exposed to organizations that regularly deal with emergencies and are short on resources.  This combination means that they will have to drop what they are doing and jump in.  This high pressure, high stress environment can fuel anxiety and conflict.   It can also lead to self-awareness.  Having the ability to understand oneself -their own feelings, motives, hopes and struggles will empower individuals to respond appropriately and maturely to their own emotions.  Learning to authentically manage one’s emotions, resolve conflict, understand the emotions of others and ‘go with the flow’  are important and immeasurable qualities needed in every workplace.    

Discovery House    is a service-based gap experience for individuals ages 18-24. Participants can select a ten-month, five-month or month long commitment. The program is based on service, community and formation.

Discovery House is a service-based gap experience for individuals ages 18-24. Participants can select a ten-month, five-month or month long commitment. The program is based on service, community and formation.

  • Forms Servant Leaders Focused on Unity and Cooperation

Who wants an employee who does not understand their connection to the other team members?  The ability to work together and be humble enough to see your place as part of the whole is crucial.  Selfies are fun- but a “selfie focused employee” is not a staff member who will put the organization first.  Service is always about others.  A service-based gap experience develops leaders who understand their role is about focusing on the mission and helping others.  Through service participants learn that all humans are connected.  We all have needs and gifts. If we are humble, these needs and gifts can complement one another.  This is the type of individual you will want in your company.  Individuals who want to utilize their talents for the success of your business. This type of employee is humble, cooperative, collaborative and recognizes they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Gap years have been popular in Europe.  They are just gaining a foothold in the United States.  Many gap experiences take participants overseas for a “vacation type adventure.”  12plus1 is committed to forming participants through service.   It is our goal to provide an opportunity for participants to:

  • make a positive impact,

  • grow in their understanding of self,

  • discover their passion,

  • make plans for their academic and professional future and

  • grow in life skills.

This program will be a benefit for businesses as they search for ways to expand their pool of candidates.  The hiring process is one of the most time consuming, costly and challenging tasks for every business.  Hiring participants who have participated in a service year, would allow organizations to select individuals who have had real life work experience and been through a process focused on professional and individual growth.  A service-based gap experience will have a positive impact on the workforce and our country.  Making service a regular part of a young person’s professional development will benefit workplaces and our society.  It is our hope that you will support and promote this service-based gap program offered by 12plus1.

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Joe Nettesheim is the founder and director of 12plus1.  He has worked in Church ministry for twenty five years in the area of adult and youth formation and service learning.  He has also been an Executive Director for nonprofit organizations. You may contact Joe