National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

NCFY Reports

Tips on Preparing Young People for the World of Work

  • Youth who've lived on the streets for a long time may not consider hygiene important, and they may never have owned an alarm clock.

  • Introduce young people to workplace expectations and norms through a sponsored work program such as a supervised day labor program or through a simulated work environment in which they can practice work readiness skills.

  • If you plan to use a job readiness curriculum, choose one that takes into account the special needs of youth and the realities of adolescent development.

  • Guide youth in assessing their skills using a tool such as the Skills Profiler developed by O*Net, a program of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Skills Profiler is available at

  • Help young people decide whether to obtain a job readiness credential. Credentials that confirm a worker's basic job skills are offered by some State and local workforce initiatives. For information about the Equipped for the Future Work Readiness Credential (see box), go to

  • Connect job readiness to life skills training. Many skills valuable for entry level workers are taught in transitional living and life skills curricula. Tools such as the Ansell Casey Life Skills Assessment ( or the Daniel Memorial Institute's Assessments for Life Skills ( can help you determine the particular skills each young person needs to learn.

  • Model workplace norms in your job readiness program or class, for instance by asking youth to attend from 9 to 5, providing stipends, creating a dress code, and requiring that youth behave as they would be expected to at a workplace.

  • Teach young people about participation and collaboration in the workplace by asking them to create a mission statement and rules for the class.

  • Use role playing to help young people learn how to act in specific workplace situations, such as a job interview, a dispute with a coworker or supervisor, or a racist incident.

  • Introduce young people to working professionals, either in one-on-one meetings or by arranging for youth to "shadow" someone during a regular workday, so they can observe how people act, dress, and talk at work.