Venture for Canada Announces Reskilling Retail Workers Project Steering Committee


The Reskilling Retail Workers Project is a project funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre. The project supports designing and testing a reskilling program for displaced retail workers, focusing on racialized and Indigenous youth to be tested and prototyped in Ontario.

Retail is an important sector for young people, offering opportunities for entry-level experience and skills development. It is also a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada.

In 2020, retail was among the top three sectors with the largest drop in labour demand and is an industry where 21% of jobs are at high risk of automation. Women, racialized, and Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by these factors and displacement.

“The retail industry is one of the most impacted sectors, and retail workers need new opportunities through innovative skills training to ensure a brighter future. If we don’t develop innovative approaches, this crisis will put the most vulnerable employees at risk and widen inequalities,” said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada.

The Reskilling Retail Workers Project will create a comprehensive training program that reskills and upskills displaced retail workers into in-demand tech jobs such as sales or customer success or in-demand IT jobs in the retail sector.

“We strongly believe this project will produce innovative and critical insights and have a lasting impact on efforts to reskill and upskill retail workers to go into higher-paying sales jobs, which continue to have an increasing demand for talent in Canada” added Sonya Meloff, President of Sales Talent Agency. 

The Reskilling Retail Workers Project is centered on a cross-sectoral collaborative approach to address this complex problem. Through a lens of co-creation, inclusion, and reconciliation, VFC has assembled a dynamic Steering Committee of retail, innovation, and technology sector leaders, including representatives from: 

  • Business + Higher Education Roundtable
  • Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Technology
  • Generation
  • Sales Talent Agency 
  • Shopify
  • Riipen
  • Retail Council of Canada
  • Venture for Canada

“In a post-COVID-19 economy, Canadian businesses will need to address emerging social and economic challenges. Building a better Canada is dependent on both individuals’ entrepreneurial skills and our collective impact,” said Scott Stirrett, Founder and CEO of Venture for Canada, the primary delivery organization of the project. 

VFC is proud to announce the following Steering Committee Participants who will be informing, guiding, consulting, and supporting the Reskilling Retail Workers project throughout its four key phases: community-based participatory research, design, testing and prototype, and evaluation:

“The future of work requires entrepreneurial thinking and problem solving. With commerce changing fast, we believe there’s a huge opportunity to support Venture for Canada on upskilling retail workers who want to expand their skillset and increase their digital literacy” said Dana Tessier, Director of Knowledge Management at Shopify.

If you are a displaced retail worker, a retailer, a tech startup, or a scaleup hiring for sales and customer success jobs joining our Retail Recovery Community to stay up to date with the project and opportunities to participate. 

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The project will run until March 31, 2023, with key community participation in early 2022. 



The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. We believe Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, we are collaborating to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead. The Future Skills Centre was founded by a consortium whose members are Ryerson University, Blueprint, and The Conference Board of Canada and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.


Venture for Canada is a national charity that fosters entrepreneurial skills and mindset in young Canadians. To be entrepreneurial is to act upon opportunities to create value for others.

We recruit, train, and support young people to work for innovative Canadian small businesses and startups. Through our programs, participants develop the network, knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills to have more impactful careers. 

The resourcefulness of Canadians is essential to overcoming our country’s greatest challenges. Venture for Canada is a catalyst of systemic social change by equipping young Canadians to build a more prosperous and inclusive society.

Media Contact: Juanita Lee-Garcia, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Social Impact