4 min read
21 March 2024

WoodGreen’s Skills for Success for Experienced Workers program empowers older jobseekers in Toronto to thrive

Program fills gap in services to support the entry, re-entry and retention of older workers in the labour market

Toronto, Ont. - In light of Canada’s aging population, WoodGreen Community Services has developed new programming to provide experienced workers with the training and skills they need to thrive in the rapidly changing world of work. Funded through Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Skills for Success program, Skills for Success for Experienced Workers (SSEW) was designed to fill service gaps to help bolster the labour market participation rates of racialized adults ages 45 and older in the Greater Toronto Area.

Launched in May 2021, ESDC’s Skills for Success program offers critical resources and training focused on nine foundational and transferable skills Canadians need to participate, adapt and thrive in learning, work and life. Funding from ESDC enabled WoodGreen to extend its programming to respond to the disproportionate rise in unemployment rates among older racialized adults and offer further tailored support to help these jobseekers overcome systemic barriers to succeed in the workforce.

“We are immensely grateful to Employment and Social Development Canada for their support and partnership,” says Steve Vanderherberg, vice president of community programs at WoodGreen. “This generous $1.17 million investment has enabled WoodGreen to empower older jobseekers with the skills and resources they need to thrive in the new world of work. As Canada’s population ages, programs like Skills for Success for Experienced Workers are vital in ensuring the success and resilience of older workers in our transforming economy.”

Canada is seeing greater numbers of experienced workers in its labour force. In Toronto, 35 per cent of the city’s population belongs to the mature experienced workers age group, according to 2021 population census data. However, there is a notable downward trend in labour market participation among older adults, decreasing from an 83 per cent participation rate among the 45 to 49 age group to 69 per cent among adults aged 60 to 64. As our population continues to age, there is a growing need to provide support for older adults navigating the rapidly evolving job market.

SSEW’s hybrid service delivery included in-person classroom sessions, online training sessions and independent learning. Training included skills upgrading in five areas: job readiness preparation, digital skills, social-emotional skills, personal and professional development and DIBE insights (Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, Equity).

The program helped elevate both the foundational and transferable skills of participants, resulting in a 27 per cent increase in confidence across all nine skills with:

  • A notable improvement of 33 per cent in confidence for foundational skills (Reading, Writing, Digital Literacy, Numeracy, and Communication)
  • A 21 per cent improvement in confidence for transferable skills (Collaboration, Adaptability, Problem Solving, Creativity & Innovation)


Participants also reported enhanced well-being and wellness, as well as feelings of community and belonging. The program also served as a catalyst for educational aspirations, with 97 per cent of participants expressing an intent to pursue further education.

Following the SSEW program’s successful completion, WoodGreen has begun working to expand its reach to ensure more job seekers can access the model. On March 19, WoodGreen hosted a webinar to share insights and learnings with community agencies. Key learnings from the program including a final report, summary report and curriculum materials are also available on the WoodGreen website.

To learn more, please visit: www.woodgreen.org/resources-skills-for-success-for-experienced-workers

ABOUT WOODGREEN COMMUNITY SERVICES (woodgreen.org): WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, serving 37,000 people each year. We offer over 75 programs and services tackling the social determinants that affect the health and well-being of individuals in our community.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Tureisha Hamlet; [email protected]; (416) 277-2672 (cell)