New program bridges skills gap for women entering workforce

When Sawsan signed up for our new Business Office Skills program, her biggest worry was the math section.  Three weeks into it, she’s surprised to find that’s the part she likes the best.  “The minute you start really knowing and solving the problem, it comes really interesting and you want to do more.”

The Business Office Skills program, launched for the first time in September, is an innovative approach to support newcomer women like Sawsan, a volunteer at New Circles, to enter the workforce. Developed in partnership with Seneca College, Skills for Change and Golden Mile Employment Services, the 20 week program combines classroom instruction with on-the job learning through a placement at New Circles or one of our partner agencies.  The curriculum includes core business and customer service skills including basic math, English, MS-Office and effective communication.   

Eleven women have enrolled in the pilot program which also includes coaching on resume writing, interview and job search skills. “We’re learning.” Sawsan says. “Right now, we’re working on math, English and touch typing. Then we’ll be doing Word, Excel and PowerPoint.”

The program focuses on critical skills that are diverse and transferrable within the office and customer service sectors, where most entry-level positions opportunities are to be found.  Nita Saini, Program Manager, is excited about the potential of the program to help women find employment.  “Computer literacy is the number one skill on the rise in today’s labour market. This program not only teaches a range of essential skills for business, but also provides on-the-job experience through the placements and coaching.  Our goal is to help women to bridge the gap to employment.”

Special thanks to The Sprott FoundationCIBC and The Slaight Family Foundation for generously supporting this program.


New Circles' GLOW clothing service is the largest clothing bank in Toronto. We help 12,000 people of all ages annually.