Employment Programs for Youth

The best employment training programs are effective in that they meet their objective of improving the employability of marginalized youth by providing them with the supports necessary to transition into the world of work. (Why don’t you just get a job? Homeless youth, social exclusion and employment training)

There are numerous training and employment programs for unemployed youth, some of which specialize in at-risk or homeless youth. However, traditional employment programs and methods may not work for marginalized youth. Creating a program that supports and responds to the needs of at-risk or homeless youth means addressing some of the systemic issues that affect their participation in a program.

Some considerations:

  • Connect employment training with housing stability. Youth should be supported to find or maintain housing, either independently, with the same agency or through a community partner. However, there should be no risk of eviction if the youth fails to complete the training program.
  • Provide start-up costs including transportation, work clothing and necessary supplies/equipment.
  • Support the youth to obtain necessary identification.
  • Provide life skills training to assist the youth with development of practical skills that will serve them after the program is complete. In particular, obtaining a bank account and developing a budget, creating a resume, interview skills etc. are key for a youth employment program.
  • Offer intensive case management supports to assist the youth in dealing with issues that arise. This includes allowing time off (with pay) to attend to urgent matters such as court dates, counselling appointments etc.
  • Figure out a plan to address issues of lateness and attendance. These present particular challenges for street-involved youth who may not have the same ability to adhere to a structured routine as housed youth.
  • Build in access to education – especially a GED – if possible. This will help improve outcomes after the program for the young person. Support a young person’s goals for future educational attainment. This could include discussing educational programs, assisting with applications and applying for scholarships.
  • Create opportunities for job shadowing/mentorship so that youth can see what a program looks like in a real world application.
  • Consider a weekly or bi-weekly pay schedule rather than monthly. This serves two functions:
    • Youth do not have to wait as long between pay cheques, especially for those items that are deemed essential for work.
    • Money is spread out over the month rather than arriving in one large sum (this does make budgeting for rent important however).