Unemployment rates are relatively high for homeless persons. In a study of at risk homeless people, 21% reported being unemployed. Among surveyed shelter users, 38% had no current income and only 20% were receiving any welfare support. Youth unemployment rates are substantially higher – as high as 77%, as one study revealed.
Supports and services are needed to help homeless people find work, such as job training and apprenticeship programs (Raising the Roof). These programs should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual and the obstacles they face in acquiring employment. Traditional training programs that fail to take individual needs into account are often unsuccessful with some homeless populations such as youth, for instance, who experience a unique set of challenges. Social enterprise projects often take into account these unique needs and may form a good entry point into the workforce.
Training programs are intended to provide people experiencing homelessness with the skills necessary to attain and maintain employment. In other words, they aim to supply attendees with “human capital” in order to make themselves a marketable member of the workforce. This training often involves an enhancement of both hard skills – specific capabilities required for particular jobs, as well as soft skills – communication skills, navigating through the workplace, etc. When employers participate in these training programs, supports can also take the form of “job shadowing, coaching and/or mentoring.”