Humber employment services program helps at-risk youth

by | Dec 3, 2018 | News

Druv Sareen
News Reporter

Internet access has become a crucial necessity for job-hunting, but for those without, it can be an obstacle in the search for employment.

That’s why every other Tuesday employees from Horizons For Youth take a group of homeless or at-risk youth to the St. Clair Humber Community Employment Services (HCES) location for job training.

Horizons For Youth, based on Gilbert Avenue in the Caledonia Road and Eglinton Avenue area, was established in 1994 and now serves as a 24-hour shelter for homeless and at-risk youth aged 16 to 24. The organization also offers hundreds of workshops and field trips to help shelter users get the skills they need to live independently.

James Anderson, Horizon’s day program coordinator, has seen the positive reactions some of these young people have had to the job process.

“Finishing a resume is almost like finishing high school for some of these youth if they’ve never had one before,” he said. “It’s a sense of accomplishment and that’s really huge especially for their self-esteem and confidence.”

For those that have been to HCES before, this is routine. As soon as they enter the office, they’re on the computers looking for jobs on their own. They talk about where they should put their Model UN experience or if their honour-roll status matters on a resume.

For first-timers, the process is more guided because building a resume is a new adventure for some of them.

Some of the youth at Horizon’s are refugee claimants and while they wait for their work permits to come in, they’re building their resumes and looking for volunteer positions.

Jennifer Mason, who joined HCES in July, advises youth on resume building and teaches them how to market themselves for the job world.

Mason said she is glad to help people find work.

“A lot of people don’t know about the programs that Employment Ontario has to offer and how beneficial it can be when you’re looking for a job,” she said. “You don’t have to be on your own, you have all of this support that can help you with the job search process and even the job matching process.”

For some, the prospect of a new job has fueled larger aspirations.

“We’ve had youth who got their first job and they’re just super excited and actually for many of them it changes their behaviour and it makes them hungrier where they want a second job, a third job because they enjoy working and they just want to give back,” Anderson said.

Kalyna Thurlbeck, a second-year student in Humber’s Social Service Worker program, works with Horizons helping youth with their resume building. She has seen first-hand this process is helpful to the youth.

“There’s a lot of working going into getting these youth out of their cycles of poverty,” Thurlbeck said. “Just last week we had someone move out and get an apartment and has a job and is starting in college next semester, you get to see a lot of positive [things].”