Young girls training to be chefs in Nairobi - Care leavers
Supporting care leavers – 23 April 2018

SOS global study reveals care-leavers facing discrimination and poor job prospects

Young people leaving care are facing unemployment, low pay, poor working conditions and exploitation in the workplace, an SOS report reveals.

Decent work and social protection for young people leaving care found that care-leavers are often left alone and ill-equipped to live independently when their care placements end. It concluded the employment options available for care-leavers were often temporary and low-paid and they faced social exclusion, discrimination, and increased difficulty finding work.

The study also found they are required to become self-reliant at a much earlier age than their peers. At a time of growing social and economic insecurity, when young people are remaining dependent on their families for longer, care-leavers typically lose support from the state when they turn 18.

Alison Wallace, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages UK said: “Meaningful, well-paid employment is the key to young people achieving economic independence. With it they can lift themselves, their communities and future generations out of poverty. Yet 70 million young people worldwide are unemployed. For those without the support and guidance of a family network finding a decent job can be an even greater challenge.

“Our responsibility to children without parental support does not end simply because a child turns 18. Governments and policy makers around the world have an obligation to ensure young people leave care with the skills and resources they need to build fulfilling, independent lives for themselves.”

The global study, produced in collaboration with University College London, examined the support available to care-leavers in 12 countries across four continents. It recommends:

  • Supporting young people until they are ready to live independently
  • Training care professionals such as social workers and teachers to better assist care-leavers
  • Empowering care-leavers to actively participate in the process and know their rights 
  • Increasing access to mentorships, internships, and apprenticeships
  • Removing perverse incentives for care-leavers to take low-paid work to avoid homelessness
  • Offering care-leavers scholarships or fee exemptions so they can continue their education
  • Involving the private sector in preparing young people for the labour market

SOS Children’s Villages operates 48 vocational training centres worldwide, providing young people with skills training, qualifications, work experience, internships and career guidance.

Read the full report

Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.