New program uses GLOW as platform to build retail skills

New student Richeline and Counselling Foundation's Mario Gravelle tour GLOW“I’m looking for a job but I don’t have any Canadian experience,” said GLOW volunteer Richeline, who is among the first cohort of participants to enroll in our new Retail Foundations course.  

Richeline, a mother of three who came to Canada from Haiti, is the ideal candidate for this program which launched in February and is geared to newcomer women facing barriers to employment. 

“Our clients have expressed keen interest in employment training, but there are few free programs available and many have family responsibilities that prevent them from enrolling full time,” said Alykhan Suleman, Executive Director of New Circles.  “GLOW provides an ideal learning platform to develop retail skills and the part-time, flexible nature of the program allows participants to complete the course requirements at their own pace.”

Twenty-three people are now enrolled in Retail Foundations, made possible through a three year $150,000 grant from the Counselling Foundation of Canada. “Retail is one of the last sectors where people can ladder their career and this gives people a sense of hope about their future. The part-time, flexible program model is attractive to wide range of people and is respectful of adult learners who have to deal with a lot of practical things such as child care,” said Mario Gravelle, Learning and Innovation Analyst for the Counselling Foundation, who was provided with a tour of GLOW by Richeline.  

Drawing on course content from the Retail Council of Canada, the free three-month certificate program teaches customer service, merchandising, sales and inventory management, along with soft skills including communication, workplace integration and conflict management.  The program includes a 36-hour placement in GLOW and students may write the Retail Council of Canada’s Retail Associate exam at no cost. The idea to develop retail training for adults was inspired by success of the summer youth retail program introduced in 2014. 

Students also register with our employment partner, the Labour Education Centre.  “Our role in this program is to help participants build job search skills and provide support through employment counselling and help to find a job,” explained Project Director Wendy Tanner.

“Retail is the number one sector in Canada and this course can be the start of a rewarding career.  The course content teaches students about retail and also covers transferable skills that are valuable in other sectors,” said Marcia Wenn, Manager, Education at the Retail Council of Canada.

We wish Richeline and all our Retail Foundations participants much success in their future careers!

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