For a homeless youth, employment is the promise of an independent future. Our Employment Centre offers a structured and supportive program that helps our youth find work and build job readiness skills.“At the Employment Centre, we’re offering hope and potential to youth who maybe haven’t felt it before,” says Supervisor Fred. “Our program brings out the best in them.”
The program balances time to job search with one-on-one career coaching and a range of relevant workshops, such as networking, financial literacy, conflict resolution and computer skills. It is a popular choice for our kids, because they realize the program gives them the tools they need to find work and move beyond homelessness.
Finding employment can be one of the most difficult challenges, because the hardships our kids have faced that led to homelessness are also often barriers to employment. Many of our youth have lacked positive role models in their formative years, so they have not learned how to forge healthy relationships, negotiate conflicts or meet responsibilities. Our vocational support workers primarily focus on job coaching, but they often guide our youth through interpersonal issues as well.
We recently renovated a new space in our building for the Employment Centre. The bright and welcoming look of the dedicated space conveys to our youth that we are invested in their success. The environment has helped to generate an attitude of pride and respect among our youth. They are focused on the tasks of finding and preparing for employment. Enrolment in the program has risen substantially since the space has been upgraded.
While most of our youth try to find work through regular postings, the Employment Centre also builds partnerships with employers in the community that have shown a desire to hire and mentor our youth. They know our workers can help to coach the youth through any conflicts and challenges that may arise.
Our Program Supervisor Fred explains that we are working to be as inclusive as possible of our youth with mental health issues and learning disabilities, because many of them are also interested and capable. Luke has been attending the program at our new Employment Centre every morning for six weeks. Once withdrawn and standoffish, he now shows an interest in all the workshops and he is working to complete his Worker Safety and Insurance Board Certificate. His youth workers in other programs have noticed that his outlook has transformed.