Is Employment a Route out of Homelessness? A Critical Review of Education, Training and Employment Services for Homeless Women and Men

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This paper considers the utility of education, training and employment (ETE) programmes to test the contention that paid work can provide a sustainable route out of homelessness for women and men. The paper looks at outcomes, by gender, across a cohort who were tracked for three years and administrative data collected on over 14,000 users of a major ETE programme, also drawing on research on the operation of the Emmaus model in the UK and looking at the European, North American and Australian evidence base. The evidence indicates that ETE services can contribute to economic and social integration, but that ETE is most likely to be effective when a homeless person is not ‘distant’ from experience of employment, i.e. has a sustained history of paid work and/or has worked recently. Differences in the characteristics, homeless pathways and experiences of women and men are contrasted, the paper also exploring the variations in the outcomes for ETE services for homeless people by gender.
Looking at the experiences of women and men, the paper explores the effectiveness of ETE, a supply-wide intervention that is intended to enhance employability in contexts where labour markets are not buoyant and employment opportunities are restricted. The possibility that economic ‘integration’ of homeless women and men may be shallow, i.e. they are more likely to secure precarious, short-term, part-time, low paid employment which may not pay a sufficient salary to sustainably meet housing and living costs is discussed. The question as to whether exits from homelessness may only be possible for women and men via employment where welfare/social protection systems can provide additional/bridging income to allow someone to continually meet housing and living costs is also explored. There are also questions about the quality of life for homeless women and men if ETE services tend to only provide routes into low grade employment. The paper considers innovations in promoting economic integration for homeless women and men, such as systems to enable them to set up their own businesses and become self-employed, social enterprise models and the potential for individual placement support (IPS) models.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 21 Sept 2018
EventEuropean Observatory of Homelessness 13th Research Conference: Social and Economic Integration of Homeless People - Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 21 Sept 201821 Sept 2018


ConferenceEuropean Observatory of Homelessness 13th Research Conference

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