Youth Employment

While meaningful employment is key to independent living, getting and keeping a job is perhaps the toughest challenge faced by homeless youth.

Most homeless kids lack enough education, job experience, life skills, and stability to find and maintain employment. For example, some 62 percent of homeless youth have dropped out of high school.[1]

For homeless kids who often have no phone, permanent address, appropriate clothes or resumes, job hunting can prove frustrating and futile.

But even with those tools, homeless kids often can’t muster the confidence to land a job.

Many have never known the encouragement and support that most of us got at home.

Often their experiences at home and/or on the street have left them with little self-esteem or belief that they can succeed.

If they do manage to make it through the door, many homeless kids have no experience or role modeling to help them navigate the workplace or meet the demands of time management and structure.

A 2009 Canadian study found 73 percent of homeless youth reported that they were unemployed.[2]

In today’s uncertain economy, homeless kids’ struggle for work has become even more daunting.

Trends like the growth of lower-paid, temporary jobs with no benefits, the shrinking manufacturing sector, increased outsourcing of low skill-level jobs to developing countries and reduced public sector jobs are all impacting their prospects.

As a result, young people in Canada generally, and homeless youth in particular, are at a severe disadvantage in today’s job market. The youth unemployment rate is double that of Canada’s total unemployed population at 14.7% versus 7.8%.[3]

A recent report aimed at encouraging homeless youth employment points out that ongoing support of community programs, like Covenant House’s job centre and culinary arts training program, are vital to helping them get started on a career path.[4]


[1] Youth Homelessness in Canada: The Road to Solutions, Raising the Roof, 2009.

[2] Raising the Roof, Youth Homelessness.

[3] Vital Signs Canada, Community

Foundations of Canada, 2011.

[4] It’s Everybody’s Business: Engaging the Private Sector in Solutions to Youth Homelessness, Raising the Roof, 2012.


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Facts & Stats

There are 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto each year

Homeless youth are forty times more likely to die than other youth

70% of homeless youth are fleeing homes with abuse and neglect

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