Finding a job as a young person can be a very difficult prospect, but is next to impossible if you’re a homeless youth.

That’s why a new initiative for homeless youth launched nationwide this week - the first of its kind in Canada – is stepping in to help.

The new Hire Up program uses the web to connect homeless youth to potential employers.

The program, which works with Dans la rue, helps homeless youth overcome the incredible challenge in finding employment.

David Palardy Talbot, who spent two years living on the streets, said he knows first-hand how difficult finding a job can be.

“After being on the street, there's a gap in your CV. Most people will ask, ‘Why didn't you work for that amount of time?’ The only thing I can tell them to be honest is that I've been on the street and people are scared of that,” he said.

He now works in the distribution depot of Dans la rue.


Impakt, the organization behind the Hire Up program, is hoping to change this attitude, launching the website with the collaboration of Workopolis and the Home Depot Canada Foundation.


“There are youth who could make great employees and there are corporations who have made a priority of doing the right thing, but they're actually not doing it in this area. So we thought, let's just connect the two,” said Paul Klein, president of Impakt.


Hire Up links businesses seeking employees with youth who are looking for jobs, but who have also lived on the streets.

Businesses of all sizes can join in to become a Hire Up employer. For Dans la rue and 17 community groups across the country, it's a welcome tool they believe will help youth to get off the streets and gain independence.

It will also provide much needed data on the relationship between employment and stable housing.

“It will go a long way to informing policy at a government level and informing the kinds of programs that are offered at a community level,” said Klein.

Anywhere from 35,000 to 65,000 youth experience homelessness in Canada each year.

Although Dans la rue has been helping Montreal youth with employability for many years, their reach is limited, said executive director Cecile Arbaud.

“We do have a lot of contacts with employability programs here in Montreal, but we don't have so many contacts with employers actually -- the job market. It's a very nice opportunity to build trust as well with some employers,” said Arbaud.

Palardy Talbot hopes businesses will keep an open mind about what young people, like him, have to offer.

“You never really know why people are on the street. It could be a zillion things but I think most of them have something to bring back to society and need a little jolt to get out of misery at some point and achieve themselves,” he said.