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School-Work Transition Barriers for Newcomer Youth in Alberta

Research Team: Erika Goble1, Lisa Rochman1, Sudi Barre2, Benjamin Denga1, Alleson Mason1, Habiba Abdulle2, Evelyn Feliciano Mahmoudi2, Sagal Yusuf2, and David Burry1
Affiliations: NorQuest College1, and Alberta Somali Community Centre (ASCC)2 
Research Partner: Alberta Somali Community Centre (ASCC)
Keywords: Newcomer youth, immigrant youth; Alberta; school to work transition; barriers, economic integration, employment, qualitative research
Jump to: Full Infographic, Methodology, Findings


Overview: This study looked at the experiences of newcomer youth, aged 16 to 30, who were ready to make the transition from school to work, after participating in high school or certificate/diploma-level post-secondary education.

Objective: To examine the barriers and facilitators that impact the school-to-work transition of newcomer youth in Alberta and provide community and policy recommendations to improve transition outcomes.

Research Justification: Newcomer youth face various challenges during their transition from school to work—including racism, communication barriers, financial literacy, limited work experience, and lack of mentorship. Nevertheless, many newcomer youth are able to successfully navigate school-to-work transitions This study broadens our understanding of barriers and enabling factors that impact school-to-work transition for newcomer youth.

Infographic Excerpt

Executive Summary

Full Infographic


This study took a qualitative approach that integrated the perspectives of youth and service providers. A multi-investigator, multi-source triangulation strategy was used to analyse data and validate the findings. Interviews were carried out with four youth from Somalia and Syria, and five staff from ASCC and NorQuest College who supported newcomer youth during transition. Policy and procedure documents used to support transition efforts at ASCC were analyzed. Key themes were pulled from the interviews and documents, which were then validated by 12 community-based youth who had not been involved in the original research.


Barriers that negatively impact school-to-work transition:

  • Lack of Canadian work experience
  • Lack of language fluency and educational qualifications
  • Limited social networks
  • Cultural differences
  • Poor job search strategies
  • Transportation difficulties
  • Negative stereotypes about newcomer youth

Facilitators that positively impact school-to-work transition:

  • Social networks
  • Paid employment training programs
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Canadian educational qualifications
  • Soft skills
  • English language proficiency
  • Mentorship


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