The CfEE’s third research paper on BC youth employment explores the role and value of short-term paid or unpaid work placements for immigrant and refugee youth.
Prepared for the Centre by MOSAIC, this study relied on interviews with refugee and immigrant youth as well as employers about their experiences with a common feature of employment programs, paid and unpaid work placements. This exploratory research was conducted to address a lack of knowledge about this population’s awareness and experience of employment services, and work placement opportunities in particular. The study involved interviews with young people and employers – both of which had participated in work placements, as well as a focus group with employment services practitioners who had supported youth through this approach.
The research findings show that for the group of young people interviewed, work placements were positive experiences, as was the support received from programs and employers to facilitate those opportunities. The researchers were able to identify key criteria for successful placements for this population of youth, including:
- The development of English skills and language confidence;
- Labour market attachment;
- Community connection;
- Gaining experience in and practicing the skills necessary for a field youth were interested in and could include on resumes;
- Gaining Canadian experience; and
- Being treated fairly by employers.
The researchers also discovered that youth placed in host organizations that had diverse staff and/or clientele were most likely to feel they were treated “like a Canadian” in the workplace.
Overall, the researchers found that the majority of interviewed youth believed that their work placements facilitated the development of soft or transferable skills valued by employers as well as outcomes and expectations important for immigrants and refugees.
The report concludes with some specific recommendations for funders, practitioners, employers and researchers interested in supporting work placement opportunities for young immigrants and refugees.
An overview of the research findings were presented during a CfEE webinar on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. Click through for a recording of this event and to download the presentation slides.
This paper is one of five studies the CfEE is releasing on various topics concerning youth employment under our research programme, Understanding Current Employment Programming and Services for BC Youth. Please watch our website or mailing list for further releases.
For queries about this project or other research activities being undertaken by the BC Centre for Employment Excellence, contact Shawn de Raaf, the CfEE Research Coordinator.