Applied Research on Supportive Training, Social Enterprise and Employment First Practices for the Future of NL


Choices for Youth (CFY) is committed to building programs, systems, and opportunities that are focused on providing individualized support for young people, celebrating who they are, and working together to unlock their potential to build a brighter future.

According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada, unemployment has risen to 15.5 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador. Specifically, the unemployment rate for youth ages 15-24 is 17.1% (Statistics Canada, July 2018). Compared to the Canadian unemployment rate at 11.1%, this statistic presents many questions that requires valid research and community engagement.

After more than 25 years on the ground, CFY recognizes there are many barriers to vulnerable young people entering and being successful in the workplace. Mental health challenges, substance use issues, criminal justice issues, literacy and learning disabilities and behavioral issues are all on that list. We further recognize that there is a large correlation between poverty, the social determinants of health, adverse childhood experiences, and unemployment.

By exploring the impact that social complexities and inequities have on educational and employment participation, we can validate policy and programmatic approaches to assisting youth and emerging adults to achieve success in the labour market. This work will also connect the changing realities of work and explore leveraging youth skills in a modern economy.

This project aims to analyze options for education, training and work to gain a stronger understanding of how it relates to changing economic and social conditions of the 21st century, particularly in the context of marginalized youth and emerging adults in our province. We want to understand how the future changing nature of work and the rapid social changes experienced by our most vulnerable youth are influencing educational and labour market engagement.  

This applied research project will test the fidelity of the CFY Employment First approach in St. John’s and three other rural locations through the modernization of traditional labour market development training options, built specifically for youth with the social determinants of health embedded in program design; providing supportive employment opportunities through social enterprise; and measuring the impact of individualized case management on youth labour market attachment in both supportive and competitive employment environments.

Primary Research Questions:

  1. What are the common principles/elements of successful labour market engagement efforts, and can these be adapted to different jurisdictions in Canada interacting with marginalized youth?
  2. What is the relationship between social inclusion and employability for marginalized youth in Newfoundland and Labrador?
  3. When given dedicated social supports based on a timeframe reflective of their needs, such as access to safe and appropriate housing, income, nutrition, social and health supports, does employment and training programming attain better outcomes for youth when compared to traditional employment programs?
  4. What outcomes can social enterprise models achieve when employing youth who face multiple barriers to employment? What impact does social supports have on their employment success?


Research led by Choices for Youth.


St. John’s


October 2019 – April 2022