"those who had taken a formal gap year"

 A 'gap year' occurs when a student takes a year off between the end of school and the beginning of university, or between the end of university and the start of work, in order to broaden their horizons. This usually means a year spent backpacking or working in different parts of the world.

Since the credit crunch, and since the tremendous rise in university tuition fees in Great Britain, young people are finding that they cannot afford to take a gap year unless they are assured of work during that time or they come from a wealthy background.