Danielle is the Support Services Manager at Covenant House Toronto overseeing the Job Centre, the in-house high school, Pastoral Services and our highly successful Cooking For Life culinary arts training program. Danielle is particularly passionate about finding employment opportunities for homeless youth.
Helping youth at Covenant House find employment can be extremely challenging yet very rewarding. The barriers our youth face while trying to penetrate today’s market make the task so much more complicated.
Covenant House is actively working to help our youth through this difficult process by providing employment counselling, assistance with job search and access to training programs.
Top 10 reasons why homeless youth struggle to get jobs
1. No stable address
Employers need addresses to process payroll, collect personal information and establish emergency contacts. Having no permanent address can be poorly perceived by employers and embarrassing for our youth.
2. Emotional instability
Our youth have often experienced traumatic events and great losses in their lives before coming to our shelter. These events can be accompanied by depression, low motivation and poor self-esteem.
3. Limited education
Most homeless youth have been brought up in very unstable environments, which can lead to breaks in their education. Many employers are looking for a minimum of a Grade 12 education.
4. Poor presentation
Homeless youth tend to have little to no appropriate clothing for job searching. They also have less access to facilities to maintain their hygiene and are often unable to even get a good night’s sleep.
Transportation to appointments and interviews costs money. Most homeless youth are more concerned about ensuring they find food and shelter, let alone figure out how to get from A to B.
6. Limited computer and phone access
Job searching today is much different from the past, where pounding the pavement was effective. Most employers today want to connect via email, telephone and social networks.
7. Lost ID
It can be challenging to maintain your belongings when homeless. Often, the first thing that happens on the street is that personal ID is lost or stolen.
8. Broken family
Many people get their first job through family connections. Our youth often don’t have the benefit of networking amongst family, friends and community to secure employment. Many of them have only themselves to rely on.
9. Challenging market
Due to the changes in our economy over the last few years, youth unemployment is at 14.7%–over twice the overall rate. Our youth are at an even greater disadvantage as they compete with experienced and educated adults for entry level positions.
10. Lack of hope
Homeless youth have been let down, heartbroken and disappointed by many of the adults in their lives. This creates a sense of hopelessness in our youth. Without the support and nurturing of caring adults, they find it hard to believe that life can be more rewarding.
Employment is critical to achieving independence. This is why Covenant House is committed to supporting homeless youth gain employment. With your help, we work with our youth to address all of these challenges, and more.