Identifying Barriers faced by Ottawa Somali Youth in Accessing Post-secondary and Vocational Opportunities: An Example of Community-Based Participatory Research
In 2016, with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Seed Grant program, the Somali Centre for Family Services of Ottawa (SCFS) invited the Centre for Studies on Poverty and Social Citizenship (CSPSC) at Carleton University to carry out a needs assessment focusing on the barriers faced by Somali youth in accessing post-secondary education and employment training opportunities. The main objective of the needs assessment was to address social and economic exclusion locally by inviting Somali youth (ages 19-30) from the Ottawa area to participate in focus groups to discuss the barriers they have faced in accessing post-secondary education and employment training programs, and to invite their views on the supports needed to address these barriers. The CSPSC and the SCFS agreed that the research would involve a participatory action research approach where members of the Somali and Muslim Community would participate on an advisory committee, and where youth from the Somali Community would be directly involved in all phases of the research. Five themes were identified during the analysis: Barriers to accessing post-secondary education; Barriers to accessing job placements and training programs; Barriers to securing employment; A need for a Somali-focused employment resource centre; A need for Somali youth mentors.
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