Work and Skills
Lack of work is a major cause and consequence of homelessness, eroding skills and self-esteem and acting as a practical obstacle to finding and keeping a home. Training and education can give homeless people the skills and confidence required to get them back on track and help them prepare for, find and keep jobs.
Low levels of skills and high levels of worklessness persist amongst the homeless population and despite investment in mainstream welfare to work programmes and interventions for low skilled adults, they do not work for the majority of homeless people who need more tailored support.
Not having a job can lead to you losing your home and not having a home can seriously harm your chances of finding a job. Most homeless people have multiple labour market disadvantages and almost all have extremely low employability. Research has found that:
- Only 2% of homeless people are in full-time employment. 12% work part-time. 13% do voluntary work.
- 57% of homeless people have been unemployed for three years or more.
- With an employment rate of 15%, homeless people are five times less likely than the wider population to be in employment.
- The vast majority of homeless people want to work either now (77%) or in the future (97%) 
Homeless people or those at risk of homelessness, ex-offenders, those with mental health needs, people who have alcohol/substance misuse issues and those with a past history of long or frequent benefit claims are amongst those likely to have additional support needs and to require extra support on their journey back to work.
Many homeless people have low or no qualifications and lack the necessary skills for sustained employment. Many have had bad experiences of formal education and find that mainstream adult learning doesn't cater for their needs. As a result they lose essential self-confidence and lack purpose for improving their prospects.
- 60% of homeless people have low or no qualifications, putting over 80% of job vacancies beyond reach.
- And 37% of homeless people have no qualifications whatsoever
Even for those homeless people who have previously achieved qualifications and/or had successful jobs, the experience of homelessness itself deskills and isolates, destroying confidence, self-esteem and social ties. Many are caught in a destructive cycle of unemployment, mental health problems, addiction or reoffending which prevents them taking control of their lives and moving on. Engaging in activity and learning and developing new skills is a way of breaking this cycle and many homeless people prefer learning in the more relaxed environments of voluntary settings such as the services Crisis provides.
Gaining new skills is not just a means of getting homeless people into employment. It builds confidence, gives structure to the day and a sense of purpose and achievement, improves mental health and well being and gives people the tools to sustain a tenancy. Attending classes and training courses also provides the opportunity for social interaction, a chance to meet new people and make new friends. Investing in learning and skills projects for homeless people can therefore have multiple benefits for individuals, Government policy and public spending.