Homelessness can be caused by a range of actors such as
relationship breakdown, debt and financial difficulties, substance
misuse, and imprisonment. The number of homeless people is very
difficult to calculate because of the transient nature of the
homeless population and because the various forms of homelessness
are counted in different, but sometimes overlapping ways. However,
the pressures of the economic downturn combined with a lack of
affordable housing and housing benefit cuts mean more people are
facing homelessness and, after years of declining trends, 2010
marked the turning point when homelessness began to rise.
In relation to employment, the homelessness charity Crisis finds
2% of homeless people are in full-time employment and 12%
50% of homeless people have been unemployed for three years
37% of homeless people have no qualifications; and only a
third have qualifications equivalent to five Standard Grades or
77% of homeless people would like to work now and most have
worked at some point in the past.
Homeless people often face multiple barriers that hold
them back from moving towards and into employment. These barriers
No or low qualifications.
Poor basic skills - e.g. literacy and numeracy.
Lack of work experience or incomplete work
Lack of recent references.
Housing situation not conducive to training for a job or
sustaining a job.
Health and/or substance misuse problems.
Debt and financial worries.
Perceived or actual discrimination from employers and
Isolation and lack of social networks.
Policies and Interventions
Recent policy has made reference to the importance of
addressing the employability needs of homeless people. The Housing
Scotland Act (2001) required local authorities to write
homelessness strategies that took account of employability, and
both the Code of Guidance in May 2009 and the Prevention of
Homelessness Guidance in June 2009 mention employability agencies
and employment as being important parts of the bigger picture in
tackling and preventing homelessness. There is, however, for
example, still no statutory duty to record the employability needs
of people presenting as homeless, and no tracking systems to
measure the employability route to employment.
In supporting homeless individuals towards and into employment,
good practice suggests the need to:
Adopt a holistic approach where all agencies work in
partnership to support the individual. These include housing,
health, social work, education and employability
Create a culture where employability is seen as central and
positive amongst all support partners.
Take into account people's fears and potential risks and
build robust information networks to support and reassure the
Adopt a 'small steps' approach that gradually break down
their barriers to employment.
Tailored, flexible support as traditional learning routes may
not always be the most appropriate. Learning in groups may be
overwhelming & intimidating, while engagement may ebb and flow.
Folio based learning can aid in this respect as clients can build
their evidence base of learning at their own pace.
Build services around what actually appeals to
Peer mentoring through fellow and former homeless