Venture for Canada (VFC) is excited to announce the launch of a Reskilling Retail Workers, a project funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre. This project supports the design of a reskilling program for displaced retail workers, focusing on racialized and Indigenous youth in Ontario. To deliver this project, Venture for Canada has mobilized a partnership consortium made up of the Retail Council of Canada, the Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Technology (CIIT), Sales Talent Agency, Riipen, and Shopify Inc.
“The Retail Council of Canada is honoured to partner with Venture for Canada and other stakeholders in the ‘Reskilling Displaced Retail Workers’ initiative, aimed at building a ready-to-launch program to support the reskilling of retail workers in Ontario, with a focus on racialized and Indigenous youth in the province,” said Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada.
"The Retail Council of Canada is honoured to partner with Venture for Canada and other stakeholders in the 'Reskilling Displaced Retail Workers' initiative, aimed at building a ready-to-launch program to support the reskilling of retail workers in Ontario, with a focus on racialized and Indigenous youth in the province," said Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada.
In 2019, retailers in Canada employed over 2.2 million people, generating $485 billion in annual sales. As a result of the pandemic in the first half of 2020, 1.3million Canadian retail jobs were lost. Moreover, retail is among the top three industries at high risk of automation, with few or no options to transition into lower-risk occupations without significant retraining, according to a 2019 McKinsey study.
“The retail sector is the largest private-sector employer in Canada. Through the combined impact of automation and the pandemic, retail workers experience unprecedented challenges. Creating a scalable pathway for retail workers to up-skill and re-skill is an urgent socio-economic issue.” said Scott Stirrett, Founder and CEO of Venture for Canada.
Project activities include: Creating a collaboration-impact framework by executives from the partnership organizations; Community-based participatory research; Designing and prototyping the training curriculum and structure; Identifying risks and gaps in each of the project components. For long-term sustainability and viability, a cross-sectoral approach and community participation is essential.
“CIIT is excited to work closely in VFC’s consortium of industry, educational and government partners to remove systemic barriers to training and employment; and create access, advancement and leadership opportunities for Indigenous peoples in the Canadian tech and innovation sector,” said Tanya Chung-Tiam-Fook, Ph.D., Director of Research.
VFC’s goal is to create two sustainable pathways for youth displaced from the retail sector: reskilling for sales-adjacent or customer success employment at Canadian technology companies or upskilling for IT/digital ventures for Canada-focused jobs with Canadian retailers.
“Now, more than ever, we need to put our efforts towards reskilling and upskilling all Canadians to prepare them for the challenges of a post-pandemic economy,” said Dana Stephenson CEO of Riipen. “Riipen is proud to be working with a great consortium of partners committed to developing an inclusive program that will lead to new and sustainable pathways for displaced retail workers”
Stakeholders will gain critical insights on reskilling youth who face systemic entry barriers. The long-term goal is to inform methods and reskilling frameworks for industries at high risk of automatization to help workers gain skills and competencies needed to succeed in high-growth industries while fostering life-long learning.
Pedro Barata, Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre, says that designing a program that helps displaced retail workers to reskill – with a focus on racialized or Indigenous youth – is a perfect example of FSC’s investment in building an inclusive workforce of the future that leaves no-one behind. “Retail workers were among the hardest hit in the pandemic, and this collaborative program that involves multi-sector partners will create a comprehensive training program that reskills these workers into tech-jobs or in-demand jobs in the retail sector. This is just one of the exciting shock-proofing projects that FSC is investing in to build a future playbook for shared prosperity, and help Canadian workers and businesses seize opportunities in our future economy.”
The project will run from March 5, 2021 to March 31, 2023. If you’re interested in learning more we encourage and welcome direct outreach.
About Venture for Canada
Venture for Canada is a national charity that fosters entrepreneurial skills and mindset in young Canadians. We recruit, train, and support young people to work for innovative Canadian small businesses and start-ups. Through our programs, participants develop the network, knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills to have more impactful careers.
ABOUT FUTURE SKILLS CENTRE
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
Media Contact: Juanita Lee-Garcia, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Social Impact Juanita@ventureforcanada.ca