Addressing the Persistent and Critical Shortage of Skilled Labour

On March 7th and 8th, Tourism HR Canada hosted its annual Labour Market Forum, with over 60 representatives from government, business, education, and national, provincial and regional tourism industry associations. The two-day event provided an opportunity to discuss labour market issues for all those with a stake in growing Canada’s tourism sector.

Participants shared ideas and experiences, providing feedback on a range of topics.

The group examined the labour market crisis and discussed how to increase the supply of labour by optimizing immigrant pathways and increasing labour market participation by newcomers, refugees, and international students. In-depth discussions focused on the role for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in addressing sectoral needs.

Participants also explored how to:

  • meet the increasing demands that will come from meeting Canada’s Tourism Vision;
  • improve the perception of tourism as a place of work by adjusting the employment value proposition;
  • develop regional and pan-Canadian workforce development plans; and
  • create ways to diversify the tourism workforce.

Brent Taylor of Archan Consulting provided a presentation on the early effects of minimum wage increases on independent restaurants in Ottawa, and Eropa Stein of Hyre discussed her company’s online platform that directly connects event staff with event organizers.

2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism. Employees at tourism businesses must be equipped to welcome the steadily growing influx of Chinese tourists. Forum participants considered how to get our people market ready, identifying the skills frontline workers and managers need to serve this market.

Tourism HR Canada will prepare a summary with recommendations that build on key thematic outcomes. Participants voiced the need for meaningful policy discussions to address the persistent and critical shortage of skilled labour, which has had a profound economic and social impact on the tourism sector. More work is needed to reinforce tourism’s ‘value proposition’ beyond economic benefits—the importance of the sector’s contribution to social cohesion and the promotion of multiculturalism, Canadian identity, and environmental preservation. Another identified priority was the need for continued and improved coordination on labour market research and analysis. Perhaps most palpable was the appreciation that significant investments are needed to better engage Indigenous populations and to strengthen or develop Indigenous business and entrepreneurial initiatives that will lead to economic and social benefits for Indigenous people, both as operators and employees.

The collected insights of the participants will be analysed and turned into a plan to mitigate the labour crisis.

Tourism HR Canada would like to thank everyone who was involved in the forum. We hope you enjoyed and benefitted from the two days spent with colleagues from across the country, discussing solutions for the tourism sector’s labour market issues. Look for more from us as we work with the provided feedback—subscribe to Tourism HR Insider to receive updates directly to your inbox.