Month: January 2020

The global tourism market continues to see strong growth, outpacing the economy as a whole. Canada is setting visitor records and investing in tourism product development and marketing. A labour shortage means ample opportunity to build a stable, well-paid career. Yet in many schools, despite there being curriculum available, tourism is not offered as a stand-alone topic for secondary students to explore.

For 25 years, the Canadian Academy of Travel and Tourism (CATT) has been supporting schools who wish to implement tourism as a field of study. The national program, offered through Tourism HR Canada, has provided curriculum resources and hands-on learning experiences to thousands of students in over 100 schools across the country.

Recognizing that curriculum is set at the provincial/territorial level, and that class sizes, resources, and teachers’ experiences in tourism vary widely, the CATT program is flexible and allows teachers to weave the learning resources and experiences in as best fits their needs. Schools have the opportunity to incorporate the program over one to three grades, and students who complete set requirements earn a certificate to add to postsecondary or job applications.

Consequently, students, educators, guidance counsellors, and parents gain a fuller understanding of just what the tourism sector can offer. Young people can pursue postsecondary studies—right up to the doctoral level—and launch a thriving career, or choose upon graduation to enter an industry that offers plenty of on-the-job learning that can lead to managerial and executive roles.

The CATT program recently took part in the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership’s (GTTP) annual directors’ meeting in the U.K. Representatives from 15 GTTP member countries discussed the importance of secondary-level programming to meet worldwide demand for talent with a solid understanding of the industry and the skills and passion to push innovation and sustainability.

Countries such as South Africa, Russia, Ireland, Hungary, and New Zealand offer interesting examples of implementing and supporting tourism curriculum through government, education, and industry collaboration. Teachers, most of whom did not—or could not—study tourism as a “teachable” subject, gain access to tourism-specific training and conferences to help them fully understand the industry. There are awards for Tourism Teacher of the Year. Students have opportunities to interact and work with successful tourism companies with stellar HR policies.

However, many countries are facing the same issues as Canada: competition from other industries, a perception of low-paying, part-time work, and a focus on traditional career pathways and STEM programming.

By opening up a discussion on how to provide Canadian secondary students with a broader look at the variety of careers available to them, we can help students explore opportunities they may not have considered—before they’ve applied to postsecondary programs. We can help them learn about an industry that employs 10% of workers across Canada. We can allow them to build knowledge and skills that will support them throughout their careers and their lives. Even if they opt to pursue other fields of study, early exposure to tourism provides a positive perspective on the sector and dispels many of the myths that exists about tourism employment.

To learn more about the CATT program, whether as an educator or an industry stakeholder, please email info@tourismhr.ca.

Future Skills Framework LogoSeize your opportunity to contribute to building a pan-Canadian competency framework for the tourism sector. Tourism HR Canada has a small number of spots left at two upcoming focus groups.

Industry professionals are invited to share their experiences in today’s rapidly changing workplace by providing insights into the current and emerging skills tourism businesses need to stay globally competitive.

The two-day facilitated sessions offer professionals from a variety of tourism backgrounds—from accommodations to recreation, frontline to managerial, urban to rural—a platform to shape the way the entire tourism sector addresses skills development.

The first group will take place at the Residence Inn in Downtown Calgary on January 28 and 29. This group will seek feedback on finance competencies—ranging from the development of a budget to processing payroll—from tourism professionals with experience in that area.

The second group is scheduled at the Alt Hotel Winnipeg on February 4 and 5. For this group, we are looking for professionals with insight into sales and marketing to provide us with their feedback on associated competencies.

If you are, or know, a tourism professional with insight into either of these topics, and are able to join us for two days, please email futureskills@tourismhr.ca. Costs incurred to attend the session—i.e., travel, accommodation, and meal expenses—will be covered by Tourism HR Canada.

These focus group sessions will contribute towards the Future Skills Framework, a multi-year project aiming to develop a comprehensive framework to redress the skills and labour mismatches in tourism, while aiding job seekers, educators, and governments to better understand the skills and competencies employers are looking for. To learn more about the project, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, click here.

Tourism HR Canada previously announced with great sadness that Bill Pallett, tourism champion, HR leader, and Past Chairperson of our Board of Directors, passed away at the end of December.

Bill was a graduate and strong supporter of Ryerson University. He was committed to the ongoing development of the school and volunteered supporting the Alumni Association and the Advisory Board. He was the recipient of the 2017 HTM Industry Award in recognition for his dedication to the school.

Ryerson’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management will establish a scholarship in Bill’s name. Anyone wishing to contribute to this bequest and further his incredible impact on our tourism industry may do so here.

Ryerson University also shared the details for Bill’s Celebration of Life service:

Monday, February 10th, 2020
2:00PM – 6:00PM
Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto
75 Lower Simcoe St., Toronto, ON, MSJ 3A6
SOCO Ballroom

In honour of Bill, everyone is asked to wear their best shoes!

Canadian Lodging News also shared a tribute to Bill, with touching messages from tourism leaders across Canada.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In December 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.6%, which is 0.5 percentage points higher than the rate reported in December 2018, and lower than the previous month (November 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 5.3%.

At 4.6%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.1%.

With the exception of Food & Beverage Services, all tourism industry groups have reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 2.6% in Saskatchewan to 14.5% in Prince Edward Island.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exceptions of Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and British Columbia, were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 10.9% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of December.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – December 2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
December 2018
Unemployment Rate –
December 2019
Tourism 4.1% 4.6%
Accommodations 6.3% 6.4%
Food and Beverage 4.4% 4.0%
Recreation and Entertainment 5.3% 7.0%
Transportation 1.2% 2.7%
Travel Services N/A N/A
Figure 1 – Tourism Sector vs. Total Labour Force Unemployment Rates by Province (Seasonally Unadjusted)

See interactive charts

1 To determine unemployment rates, industrial (NAICS) classifications are based on the most recent job held within the past year, and are self-identified by the respondent. Unemployed persons are those who, during the reference period, were available for work but were on temporary layoff, were without work, or were to start a new job within four weeks.

2 As defined by the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account. The NAICS industries included in the tourism sector are those that would cease to exist or operate at a significantly reduced level of activity as a direct result of an absence of tourism. Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, customized tabulations. Based on data for the week ending December 14, 2019.

Greetings and warm wishes for a happy new year. As we welcome 2020, we celebrate the many achievements that made 2019 a year of growth and success, and we look ahead to further strengthening our organization and the tourism sector as a whole.

Canada’s economy continues to undergo structural transformation brought upon by social, economic, and political dynamics, with significant labour market shifts that are changing the nature of work. Canada’s unemployment rate is at its lowest since 1976, averaging 5.7% from January to November 2019—below the 6% mark that is generally considered to be ‘full employment’. Over that same period, tourism’s unemployment rate consistently tracked lower than the economy overall, at 5.0%.

While the labour market gets increasingly tight, Canada’s tourism sector is thriving, bringing in record numbers of international visitors. This is a good news story, but growth is seriously hampered by the lack of workers. Companies grow by creating new jobs to fill demand. Demand also incentivizes entrepreneurs hoping to establish themselves in the market. The highly desirable economic growth can only happen if there are people available to fill job vacancies and newly created jobs.

Over the past year, Tourism HR Canada launched five new strategic priorities aimed at addressing two fundamental concerns: filling 10,000s of job vacancies and increasing the skills or capacity to ensure individuals and businesses can thrive. Our mandate—succinctly summarized as: “Building a Resilient and Inclusive Labour Market”—acknowledges the need to look beyond our traditional supply of workers and at the broader economic context.

Helping address the labour issues we face in tourism is part of a larger narrative about the labour market—in Canada and globally. Across the economy, long-term, systemic labour market challenges persist. A change in policy and increased investments in the right programs are needed if we want to address the chronic shortage of workers, improve on skills, tackle the lack of affordable housing, and improve on learner and worker mobility—all needed to achieve a more inclusive labour market and ultimately enable tourism employers to grow and prosper.

Much of this is about the investment in skills, which is a tricky and complex matter. There is a lack of coherence, duplication of resources, skills training not commensurate with market demand, and an overall lack of coordination or strategy.

Policies need to focus on increased participation of under-represented groups. Tourism HR Canada has had an absolute focus on attracting and preparing Indigenous populations, and on strategies to attract and integrate immigrant workers. Policies also need to focus on optimizing the existing workforce and increasing productivity, which is linked to both supply and skills. We need to address earnings inequality and look at boosting real wages. A focus must include improved job quality: work environment, work-life balance, job security, competitive wages. We also need to find ways to work more effectively with the informal employment economy (i.e., the gig economy) where the supply of casual workers will increasingly become important to tourism enterprises (but stability and success with this group will mean changes in public policy on social protections and employment security).

The year was marked with growth, strength, and measurable successes, with the commitment to address the chronic and persistent shortage of workers. Let me highlight just a few:

  • Tourism HR Canada expanded its reach and capacity to respond to ever increasing demands for tailored labour market information and analysis.
  • In collaboration with the Hotel Association of Canada, we launched the Destination Employment pilot initiative funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to attract and prepare newcomers to Canada for employment in hotel jobs.
  • Significant work advanced our multi-year Future Skills Framework initiative. Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, this project is perhaps one of the most important legacy initiatives undertaken in the last decade. It is a direct response to the ever-increasing complexity of work and unique challenges we face in tourism—a sector that employs 10% of the labour market, in a multitude of job types, in every corner of Canada.

We are entering an era I call the ‘currency of competency’, where there is a critical need to better understand the underlying skills required of increasingly evolving and dynamic job roles—to help policy makers, employers, and education and training providers better prepare and support workers in navigating the changing world of work. Improved clarity in the definition and measurement of skills will help individuals navigate and thrive in the job market.

Let me itemize some of the salient trends, many of which were highlighted at our annual Labour Market Forum—an event that has become the most important platform to discuss tourism labour market policy issues.

  • Jobs/occupations/roles are all being redefined, and many new ones added.
  • The service sector is on the rise, with critical transferable skills in demand (both in and beyond the sector).
  • The United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and others are describing service sector jobs as the principal driver of future employment growth.
  • There is an increasingly integrated world of work and learning—as part of a lifelong continuum.
  • There is a greater emphasis on acquiring life-long skills, re-skilling, upskilling, and the move to have a larger role for employers and workplaces to be classrooms.
  • The chronic shortage of workers we are facing is at all levels, types, and regions.
  • Unemployment is at its lowest in 40 years and this coincides with an increase in part-time employment (which contributes to weaker wage growth).
  • Significant variations in employment demands or outcomes exist between regions, including differences in seasonal employment needs.
  • Increasing demand and significant growth projects for tourism products and services are hampered by lack of workers and skills.
  • Increased globalization and variables such as technology progress, capital accumulation, and aging demographics are dramatically changing the work context.
  • Population aging will inevitably lead to an increase in the average age of those in the labour force, challenging workers’ ability to keep up with the pace of innovation and structural changes in the labour market.
  • Older workers (55-64) will represent a growing share of people employed or looking for a job.

And so, we have our work cut out for us. Even with the great progress over the past year, much more is needed.

The Future Skills project, Destination Employment, foundational labour market research, and other work have been possible because of increased investments by the Government of Canada on tourism labour market priorities. In the last budget, the word ‘skills’ was mentioned 137 times and there were many instances where tourism was identified as a priority, with several initiatives aimed at helping with retention, upskilling, attracting foreign talent, and improving outcomes with youth and under-represented groups. The emphasis on skills and labour issues was broader than I can recall in past budgets. We are hopeful these will be retained as part of the new government platform.

The 2019 budget also announced the set-up of the 7th economic strategy table dedicated to tourism, designed to help bolster and promote investments in skills and the labour market. Minister Joly initiated the ‘Federal Strategy on Jobs and the Visitor Economy’, which brought further attention to the need for increased investments in human capital for the sector.

That same budget announced continued investments in labour market development agreements, workforce development agreements, and a program called Skills Boost. The focus of these programs is on skills training, skills upgrading, and work experience. One notable new item this past year was the Future Skills Initiative. Announced in January, it is designed to ‘help Canadians prepare for the future of work’: explore trends, test innovative approaches. This is one we have looked at closely; for those familiar with the former sector council program, it shares some of the same objectives and comes with a larger budget.

In this past year, Tourism HR Canada was a benefactor of the Canadian Experience Fund aimed at “creating, improving or expanding tourism-related infrastructure or new tourism products and services”. Funded by Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada, this project enabled us to initiate important skills-building projects with both the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

I mention these examples from the last budget because they show a positive movement to investing in skills and highlight program areas we continue to look at as part of the overall strategy to address our labour needs. No single program will do it all, and more targeted programs are needed.

We are starting a new chapter with a new government which, invariably, will bring on more change. As Canada’s economy continues to undergo structural transformation with significant labour market shifts, we hope to see continued investments that serve the visitor economy. Our challenges also underscore the need for us to be even more vigilant and focused on labour market policy. We must strive for continued collaboration with all tourism labour market stakeholders, work towards improved coherence and efficacy of policy and programs, and seek sustained funding that enables Tourism HR Canada to work on behalf of the industry to tackle these important issues.

A thank you to all Board Members and the large number of stakeholders who have contributed to the great work over the past year.

Best wishes for a successful coming year,

Philip Signature

Philip Mondor
President and CEO, Tourism HR Canada

The Tourism HR Canada family was deeply saddened to hear of the death of William (Bill) Pallett, who passed away December 27, 2019, after a seven-month battle with cancer.

Bill was Past Chairperson of the Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors and a longtime supporter and advocate of the organization.

A graduate of Ryerson University, he began his hospitality career at Wardair in the 1970s, then moved to a role in training and development with Canadian Pacific Hotels. After furthering his career in continuing education and learning and development in Vancouver, he returned to Toronto as the Director of Executive Development for Four Seasons. He then spent 25 years with Delta Hotels and Resorts, as the company’s Senior Vice-President, People Resources. In 2015, he launched his consulting company, WJP and Associates.

A committed volunteer, he dedicated countless hours to several organizations, including the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) and Mount Sinai Health System in Patient Care, as well as his welcome and enthusiastic contributions to Tourism HR Canada.

Through his professional and personal roles, Bill showed a natural ability to encourage, support, and mentor others. His talents and expertise were respected throughout the tourism sector, and he was a loyal and kind friend to many colleagues.

Bill’s guidance and leadership with Tourism HR Canada will leave an indelible impact. His ability to connect with each board member and other stakeholders contributed to the identity and success of the organization. He will be missed dearly. We are grateful for having known him, and the legacy he leaves behind. Our heartfelt condolences to Bill’s partner of 25 years, Charlie Corrado, and to Bill’s family and friends.

If you wish to sign the guestbook, please find it here: In memory of William (Bill) Pallett.

December was a busy month for the Future Skills Framework team, with three focus groups taking place across the country over the course of two weeks.

On December 3 and 4, 13 participants contributed their feedback in Vancouver. They worked on the development of 18 competencies across the domains of digital competence, compliance, and diversity and inclusion. The mixed expertise in the room included tourism professionals with backgrounds ranging from mountain guiding to canoe tours, as well as someone whose extensive experience included working at Canada’s very first McDonald’s. Their input helped validate a sizeable chunk of the framework. Combined with a great venue, it was an excellent way to kick off the month of Future Skills Framework focus groups.

Not a week later, two additional groups met in Halifax and Toronto, respectively. Fifteen experts in the realm of food and beverage service gathered in Nova Scotia, while Ontario saw a dozen general managers and owner/operators gather to share their insights. Over the course of two days, the parallel groups were able to validate many competencies relating to human resources, excellence in service delivery, finance, and the provision of food service.

Tourism HR Canada would like to thank every single participant for their hard work over the course of December.

The team will hold further sessions in 2020 to make sure the framework incorporates a broad range of feedback from industry; if you are a tourism professional who would like to be part of future-proofing the sector’s labour market, please join our network of experts by completing this short survey.

These focus group sessions contributed towards the Future Skills Framework, a multi-year project aiming to develop a comprehensive framework to redress the skills and labour mismatches in tourism, while aiding job seekers, educators, and governments to better understand the skills and competencies employers are looking for. To learn more about the project, click here.

Tourism HR Canada has released new data on its Rapid reSearch tool. In addition to our five existing datasets, users can now access the compensation information available in the 2019 Tourism Sector Compensation Study.

Produced with R.A. Malatest and Associates, this comprehensive study presents and analyzes data on the compensation and benefits offered by businesses in Canada’s tourism sector. Over 2,100 employers from across the country provided data for over 48,000 employees in food and beverage services, accommodation services, recreation and entertainment, and travel services.

The study contains information on the type of compensation (e.g., hourly or annual), salary range, median salary, and bonuses for 30 occupations in the sector. This data is broken down by region, industry group, employment status (full-time, part-time, seasonal), and union status.

Designed to improve access to tourism labour market information, Rapid reSearch allows anyone to search Tourism HR Canada’s labour market datasets through a simple, user-friendly interface.

In addition to the 2019 Canadian Sector Compensation Study, users can access customized tabulations of tourism data from:

  • The census (2016)
  • The labour force survey (monthly and annual)
  • Business counts
  • The provincial-territorial human resource module (PTHRM)
  • Our latest labour supply and demand data (updated November 2019)

Look for updates to the tourism business counts and annual labour force survey coming soon.

A one-year subscription to Rapid reSearch is available for $39.00. You can access the tool by creating an account on emerit.ca.

The Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) has launched early bird registration for its upcoming International Conference, to be held June 16 to 18, 2020, in Victoria, British Columbia. This year’s program will look at critical tourism research needs for the future, including new models and paradigms for economics and tourism and the information needed to empower tourism decision makers.

TTRA also announced a call for research paper submissions and a call for abstract submissions for the Graduate Colloquium. All submissions are due by January 11, 2020.

Full details on the conference and the calls for submissions can be found in the TTRA’s latest newsletter.