Negotiating the Barriers to Employment for Vulnerable Youth in British Columbia

McCreary Centre Society - Negotiating the Barriers to Employment for Vulnerable Youth in British ColumbiaPrepared for the CfEE by McCreary Centre Society, this study canvassed vulnerable young people from communities across BC to identify the employment barriers they face as well as the practices of employment support programs that have been successful in supporting them in finding work and remaining employed.

The study used participatory research methods to understand the challenges faced by youth when trying to enter or stay in the labour market. The research team connected with a wide range of young job seekers from urban and rural areas of the province, from different ethnic and cultural backgounds, and with a variety of disability or other personal challenges and circumstances.

The research team engaged youth through a survey as well as focus groups, and the integration of these mixed-methods approaches enabled the researchers to identify barriers for youth in gaining employment, as well as examples of how youth were able to successfully negotiate those barriers.

Youth who took part in the project had experienced significant challenges in their lives. They also identified a wide range of barriers to accessing and maintaining employment, including transportation challenges, concerns about interpersonal interactions within the workplace, and a lack of accessible employment support services. Some youth described their experiences dealing with the upheaval of having been in government care, childcare issues, poverty, and having been involved in the criminal justice system.

When asked about supports that have been successful in helping them to find and maintain employment, youth often mentioned specific individuals such as job coaches, employment support workers, family, youth workers and school counsellors. They also identified school programs and employment programs that provided individualized and specialized support, and which taught youth additional skills such as conflict resolution and managing interpersonal relationships, as being particularly helpful.

The report concludes with some specific suggestions from participating youth to improve employment services and policies to be more responsive to the needs and circumstances of this marginalized population in achieving their goal of joining the labour force and ultimately having a career.

The full paper can be downloaded here (PDF)

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 published by the Centre on various topics concerning youth employment under our research programme, Understanding Current Employment Programming and Services for BC Youth.

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.