Author: Tourism HR Canada

Skills Gain LogoTourism HR Canada congratulates the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick (TIANB) on the launch of its new program aimed at creating more qualified tourism professionals: Skills Gain.

The team at TIANB worked closely with staff from Tourism HR Canada to add a new online option to its existing Skills Gain workshops. The online format addresses industry feedback for a training program that can be accessed 24/7 and does not require travel and the associated expenses (gas, parking, mileage, etc.).

TIANB first hired Tourism HR Canada in 2014 to identify unmet training needs. Tourism HR Canada conducted market research, examining training practices used by businesses and training offered by educational establishments. As part of the project, researchers asked respondents to identify barriers and challenges to current training practices, areas requiring additional skills training, and perceived future workforce needs.

The team collected 174 completed surveys. The vast majority were from small businesses with fewer than ten employees. Just one-third of respondents reported having a training budget. Only about one-quarter offered a formal in-house training program, and very few purchased external training materials. Respondents also reported skills gaps in various functional areas, including general workplace knowledge, essential competencies, and occupation-specific skills.

In response to the survey feedback, TIANB secured funding to develop a series of workshops aligned with the specific needs identified by tourism operators. The organization engaged Tourism HR Canada to develop the resources. The focus: customer-service-related competencies reinforced by some specific occupational training. (Many occupation-specific training needs in the province were being met through Emerit’s nationally available training and certification resources.)

Over the past year, Tourism HR Canada and TIANB renewed their partnership, this time to augment the workshop resources with self-directed online modules covering the five core skill areas identified by industry:

  • Customer service
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professionalism
  • Communication skills
  • Thinking skills

With the launch of these Skills Gain modules, New Brunswick now has a tailored training solution offered in a flexible format to meet industry expectations.

To learn more about the program, please visit

To access the training, please visit

HT Hospitality Training LogoThe SMART accreditation program has hit another milestone: HT Hospitality Training becomes the first private institution to achieve the SMART+ distinction, highlighting the range of high-quality programming available to those wishing to start or further a career in tourism and hospitality.

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, since 2002, the hospitality training company offers short-term, hands-on courses for unemployed and underemployed individuals. The newly accredited programs are:

  • Housekeeping Room Attendant
  • Banquet Server, In-Room Dining, and Food & Beverage Server
  • Front Desk Agent

Each one weaves together national occupational standards, transferable skills, job performance and health and safety standards, technical skills, and career planning. Students earn multiple certificates, including Emerit, First Aid/CPR, WHMIS, Smart Serve, and food safety.

“We are proud of this wonderful achievement. It affirms the work we have been doing, and we are hopeful that it will open up new opportunities for us to guide even more people in acquiring the essential skills, information, and connections to start a solid career in hospitality and tourism, while serving the needs of our industry partners,” said Norman McEvoy II, President and Director of Operations, HT Hospitality Training.

HT Hospitality Training staff members (clockwise, from top left): Norman McEvoy II, Christine Smith, Louise Smith, Barbara Eade

The team ensures programming keeps pace with evolving industry skill requirements. Staff members must have tourism experience. They are well connected with the local sector and actively seek feedback to reflect current practices in their courses. Past students and tourism employers visit classes to share their employment journeys.

Experiential learning is a priority. Each student completes a supervised three-week placement at an area property, allowing them to apply their learning firsthand and experience how key transferable skills such as customer service, teamwork, and communications play out on the job. Students graduate well placed to gain employment—and economic independence—upon completion of their program.

HT Hospitality Training follows a Social Purpose Business model. Its mandate is to effect change by making a positive impact on students and society by placing vulnerable clients in established, permanent positions in Ottawa’s thriving hospitality sector. Its long-standing funding partnerships ensure students can access the courses at no cost. Ongoing communication with area employers ensures the school focuses on occupations in need of staff and that students complete their training at peak hiring times.

Diversity is a key strength at HT Hospitality Training: students represent a wide variety of equity groups, fostering respect, teamwork, and open communication. They can access many supports to overcome challenges to completing their courses and gaining employment. Newcomers to Canada can arrange additional onsite language training. Program delivery methods are varied to cater to all learning styles. Staff consult with the Ontario Disability Support Program and social workers to provide an inclusive and supportive learning environment. Frequent student feedback identifies further areas for assistance.

“HT Hospitality Training is known for its practical, tailored learning experiences aimed at helping newcomers and others get meaningful tourism jobs,” stated Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “Our sincere congratulations to the team on its dedication to creating a skilled tourism labour force and empowering its students to reach their education and employment goals.”

Click here for more on the SMART accreditation program and application guidelines.

Destination Employment LogoThe Destination Employment project aims to help unemployed and underemployed newcomers secure well-paid, stable, long-term hotel jobs. Equally important is developing a sustainable, systemic model for employment programming—one that leads to economic and social benefits for newcomers and employers and increased collaboration among community-based service providers and stakeholders.

A joint initiative of Tourism HR Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada, this three-year pilot project is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and coordinated by partners in five regions across the country.

Throughout the Maritime provinces, employers and organizations have expressed strong interest in Destination Employment. As the coordinating body for the region, the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) has been actively conducting outreach to newcomer organizations and accommodation operators.

“Similar to businesses across the country, tourism operators in the Atlantic region are facing chronic shortages of labour,” says Darlene Grant Fiander, NSTHRC Executive Director. “This is affecting their ability to deliver consistent high-quality guest service and impacting business and community growth. The Destination Employment program fills a valuable need for accommodation operators in connecting them to a previously underutilized labour pool. Many of these newcomers will play an important role in positioning the industry for positive growth over the coming years.”

Key partners in the Destination Employment initiative in Atlantic Canada include:

  • Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)
  • Western Regional Enterprise Network
  • Valley Regional Enterprise Network
  • New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training & Labour
  • Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF)
  • PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada

To recruit potential newcomer participants, NSTHRC has been holding information sessions with settlement associations, government agencies, and Regional Enterprise Networks in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Newfoundland and Labrador has an existing program underway; where appropriate, Destination Employment will be offered as an aligning support resource.

Newcomer recruitment sessions were held throughout January in collaboration with two key partners: ISANS in Halifax and MCAF in Fredericton. Over 50 enthusiastic newcomers attended the Fredericton session, seeking information about eligibility requirements, the types of positions available, the typical hours of work, and participating hotels. In February, additional newcomer outreach sessions are scheduled for Charlottetown and Moncton.

NSTHRC recently marked an exciting milestone, successfully placing its first Destination Employment employee with the Atlantica Hotel Halifax. The Atlantica has a history of hiring newcomers through the ISANS Immigrant Youth Employability Program. This successful hiring of newcomers highlights the property’s welcoming environment, employee support network, and opportunities for advancement—the key attributes Destination Employment is looking for in employers.

NSTHRC is currently exploring programming opportunities with newcomer groups to provide classroom and skills-based training in advance of hiring opportunities.

For more on opportunities to get involved with the Destination Program in Atlantic Canada, please visit

Job and Work Analyst TrainingSix months into a three-year initiative to address skills gaps and labour mismatches, the Future Skills Framework project has been actively gathering and analyzing information to pinpoint the current and emerging competencies Canada’s tourism sector needs to be globally competitive.

While many essential skills remain core to a successful tourism career, professionals must also continually strive to master rapidly changing technologies and be responsive to new demands from growing markets. Jobs have become more fluid; skills once the domain of one occupation are now needed by many.

To keep Canada ahead of the curve, the Future Skills team is consulting with a wide variety of tourism stakeholders. Their feedback will ensure the resulting Future Skills Competency Framework provides employers, employees, educators, students, and governments with a thorough, accessible, customizable tool to manage workforce development.

Several groups have shared their expertise, with many more events to come. Here’s a summary, followed by links to get involved:

International Indigenous Tourism Conference (October): At the inaugural session in Saskatoon, Indigenous tourism operators identified the unique skills and specific knowledge required for success in Canada’s rapidly expanding Indigenous tourism landscape. This feedback will inform policies and programs and demonstrate the acute need to fund an Indigenous Tourism Labour Market Strategy.

Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia’s Tourism Summit (November): Tourism business owners from across Atlantic Canada gathered in Halifax to pinpoint emerging skills and regional HR issues, such as the seasonality of many tourism operations.

Job and Work Analyst Training (January): Tourism HR Canada is now in the midst of facilitating training for consultants and other sectoral organizations. Earlier this month in Ottawa, President and CEO Philip Mondor guided participants through the nine steps of setting a national occupational standard. A second event will be held at the end of January, looking at methodologies for competency writing, facilitation, and job analysis. These skills will guide the individuals analyzing the intelligence collected at the consultation events.

Hotel Association of Canada Conference (February): A breakout session, Defining the Future of Tourism Skills, will see delegates discuss worsening labour shortages and the risks of skills mismatches and employment gaps not being addressed. This will lead into exploring how a competency framework will help better understand the skills and competencies employers are looking for and assist job seekers in identifying the skills they have and how they relate to specific employment opportunities.

Tourism HR Canada has spent 25 years developing a robust library of competencies; dozens of Emerit National Occupational Standards outline the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed for specific professions, from Food and Beverage Server to Travel Counsellor to Hotel General Manager. Along with the feedback from tourism stakeholders, the Future Skills team is mapping these and numerous international standards and competency frameworks to establish a flexible, forward-looking framework that will set the standard for proficient and effective performance.

Tourism professionals and other stakeholders interested in contributing to this groundbreaking project are invited to join the National Advisory Committee and the Content Advisory Panel.

You can also contact to join one of over 20 focus groups to be held over the coming year. What are your expectations for tourism employees? How do you define skilled labour? Your input will be invaluable to ensuring the framework fully reflects the needs of all tourism stakeholders.

blog-action planTourism and hospitality stakeholders from across Canada will gather in Ottawa this March for the annual Labour Market Forum, hosted by Tourism HR Canada.

Individuals representing all levels of business, education, labour, industry associations, and governments will participate in this “sleeves rolled up” working meeting, crafting recommendations and solutions to current and emerging labour challenges impacting the sustainability of our tourism sector.

This year’s key themes reflect the growing recognition Canada’s tourism sector is receiving. Tourist arrivals continue to grow, while visitor spending is also increasing. Tourism is a key employer in every corner of the country, one in ten jobs is related to the visitor economy—jobs ranging from part-time, entry-level work that suits students and others looking for flexibility, to C-suite positions for those aspiring to build a rewarding, lifelong career.

Capitalizing on this increasing demand for Canada’s unique tourism offering requires skilled individuals to provide incredible experiences. But there is increasing competition for workers coming from all economic sectors, as well as changing expectations from employees. Looking at such topics as attraction, retention, and training, forum attendees will collaborate to build on successes and discuss innovative solutions to implement.

On the agenda for 2019:

  • Current labour market data, including some just-in-time stats
  • Labour’s role within the new Federal Tourism Strategy
  • Update on key topics from last year’s event:
    • Temporary Foreign Worker Program
    • Impact of wage changes in Ontario
    • Strategy concerning international students
  • Federally funded labour market projects, for example:
  • Seasonal labour issues
  • Presentations from national tourism associations on their members’ key concerns and activities underway to address these
  • A new career campaign
  • Audacious, outside-the-box solutions to supply, skills, and mobility issues
  • Actions stemming from Tourism HR Canada’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan

Tourism HR Insider will examine the action items and key points of discussion following the event. Be sure to subscribe to keep informed.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In December 2018, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.1%, which is 0.9% lower than the rate reported in December 2017, and lower than the previous month (November 2018), when the unemployment rate stood at 4.5%.

At 4.1%, tourism’s unemployment rate was well below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.2%.

All tourism industry groups reported lower unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 1.9% in Alberta to 18.8% in Prince Edward Island.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, 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  2017/2018
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
December 2017
Unemployment Rate –
December 2018
Tourism 5.0% 4.1%
Accommodations 8.3% 6.3%
Food and Beverage 5.1% 4.4%
Recreation and Entertainment 6.3% 5.3%
Transportation 1.8% 1.2%
Travel Services 3.3% 0.0%
Figure 1 – Tourism Sector vs. Total Labour Force Unemployment Rates by Province (Seasonally Unadjusted)

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 8, 2018.


Happy new year and greetings as we begin 2019. This is a year to celebrate many successes and to look forward to growth and further important changes. 

For Tourism HR Canada, 2018 was a year of tremendous progress and increased organizational strength. We celebrated our 25th anniversary and wrapped up the Strategic Plan that was introduced three years ago—one that focused on organizational stability, increased flexibility and responsiveness, secured government funding, further diversified revenue strategies, invested in our people, and reinvented solutions to enable us to deliver on our mandate.

It’s been a busy three years that paid off: we achieved nearly all our priorities and further established ourselves as essential to meeting the needs of our stakeholders. Of note was the securing of federal funds for two of our signature projects: Destination Employment and the Future Skills Framework. We also gained the opportunity to work for several new clients, whose projects are essential to shaping the future of their industries. We were very active at the national level on various policy fronts with immigration, labour, tourism research, and transportation. Our Board elected a new Chairperson and sanctioned a new three-year strategic plan.

And so we welcome in the new year with the launch of our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.

This key publication details how Tourism HR Canada will continue to focus on building a resilient and innovative tourism labour market. It maps out how we will make progress on five strategic priorities, all aimed at addressing two fundamental concerns: filling 100,000s of job vacancies and increasing skills and capacity to ensure individuals and businesses can thrive.

Based on extensive consultation with tourism stakeholders and in response to the Government of Canada’s goal to significantly increase international visitation, these priorities are:

  1. Leading comprehensive labour market research and analysis
  2. Forecasting future skills to foster growth and innovation
  3. Positioning tourism as a destination for employment
  4. Innovating skills development to optimize the workforce
  5. Making strategic investments to ensure organizational strength

Looking forward, we will continue to increase our flexibility and responsiveness, further diversify our strategies, and invest in our people.

As our new strategic plan notes: “Tourism HR Canada has a stronger, more cohesive, and more proactive voice in national public policy. The past few years have also focused on innovation and transformation to ensure the organization can better demonstrate impact, remain financially stable, and offer more customized services.”

This is a vibrant organization with an important mandate. Thank you for sharing in and supporting our work. We anticipate another successful year ahead, and our team looks forward to accomplishing it with the same enthusiasm and commitment.

I encourage you to review the new strategic plan, as it will shape the years to come.

With very best wishes,

Philip Signature

Philip Mondor
President and CEO, Tourism HR Canada

Reskill Project Logo

On December 4th, 2018, Tourism HR Canada and Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) led a one-day consultation event in Port aux Basques, NL. This meeting was part of HNL’s three-year Reskill project, which seeks to reskill non-tourism sector workers for jobs in the industry. It is an innovative approach to employing individuals in rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, building the capacity of existing tourism operators, and creating solutions for tourism labour market shortages.

The Reskill project will reach, engage, empower, and support unemployed individuals facing barriers to employment. Individuals pursuing work in the tourism industry will have access to professional training opportunities, self-directed learning, and on-the-job development with tourism operators in a safe, flexible, and supportive space. Project coordinators will encourage them as they explore their livelihood potential in rural communities in the province.

The meeting was a community needs assessment aimed at identifying the training required for frontline employees, supervisors, managers, and tourism operators. Participants discussed which skills will allow the local tourism sector to thrive, examining:

  • transferrable skills, such as numeracy and communication
  • attitudes, such as adaptability and willingness to learn
  • technological skills
  • business management skills
  • entrepreneurial skills
  • cultural intelligence
  • tourism-specific skills and knowledge
  • sustainable practices

In addition to specific training needs, the meeting gathered information on:

  • the current state of the tourism industry
  • current resources for unemployed and underemployed workers
  • challenges that could affect the program
  • the impact of seasonality

The meeting was attended by representatives from the tourism industry, community leaders, training providers, employment service providers, and representatives from the neighbouring community of Isle aux Morts. Tourism HR Canada and HNL wish to thank all attendees who gave their time and energy to provide important information that will be used to move this project forward.

The Reskill project is supported by the NL Workforce Innovation Centre’s (WIC) Research and Innovation Program. The project is funded by the Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement.

Thinking about the future of work, particularly the fragility of many jobs and professions as they are usurped by technology and automation, can be a sobering exercise. While technological advances continue to make our lives easier and more convenient, the often-unintended consequences of these innovations continue to mount, marginalizing work done by humans.

While this reality impacts all sectors of the Canadian economy, the good news is many tourism and hospitality positions have not been greatly affected by these advances and the pace at which these jobs are being lost to automation and technology is slower than in other sectors of the economy.

We all know the speed of change has increased exponentially since carts and horses were replaced by cars and trucks. There once was time to see what new jobs would be created due to advancements in technology, but no longer—it is happening too quickly. And in many instances where automation or technology rendered jobs and even entire industries redundant or uncompetitive, there remained a need for humans to perform important roles within the changed environment…but this, too, is becoming less and less the norm.

For tourism, there is an opportunity here: employers can improve the quality of service and attentiveness to guest needs and further showcase the value of the human connection to the client experience. Tourism operations can embrace advancements that may help alleviate the physical demands of some jobs and help ensure increased workplace safety, while also demonstrating the value-add of personalized service that can only be accomplished through human interaction.

Over the course of 2019, Tourism HR Insider will be highlighting ways our sector can excel because of the human element. These short articles will provide useful and easy-to-implement tactics to tie the client service experience to the human experience through real-world examples and suggestions from HR experts. Stay tuned!

Canadian Tourism Awards Ian Cheverie and Presenters
(L to R) MP Wayne Easter, MP Gudie Hutchings, MP Alaina Lockhart, Ian Cheverie, Charlotte Bell (TIAC), Dave McKenna (TIAC Board), Philip Mondor (Tourism HR Canada) [Photo credit: Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)]
Tourism HR Canada is delighted to honour Ian Cheverie, Guest Experience Manager & Concierge at The Great George Hotel in Charlottetown, PEI.

Ian accepted the Tourism Employee of the Year Award at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s Tourism Congress. The award recognizes a frontline professional whose leadership, dedication, and high quality of service exemplify excellence in the tourism industry.

Ian joined the team at The Great George eight years ago, working in an entry-level guest service position. After earning promotions to front desk and then sales assistant, Ian’s initiative and passion for crafting the perfect guest experience led to the creation of his own guest services department, which has blossomed into a team of seven.

“I feel truly blessed to be part of an industry that celebrates the best qualities of our regions, as well as our industry leaders that live and breathe tourism,” says Ian. “The overwhelming support and encouragement from my entire province since my return from The Canadian Tourism Awards with this recognition from Tourism HR Canada is a statement to our strong sense of community—we are all celebrating here in Prince Edward Island! Receiving this prestigious award was an evening I will never forget, and I now look forward to taking our guest experience to the next level when it comes to sharing my pride and passion for what I do, where I work, and where I live.”

Ian’s commitment to hospitality is evident in all he does—he continually strives to create an unmatched guest experience, even using his free time to gain a deeper knowledge of tourism across the province. Guests frequently request his personally vetted island tour itineraries and join his popular Historical Walking Tour. He has implemented numerous programs to make each guest’s stay memorable and unique and spends time getting to know each guest to ensure their next stay is further tailored to their likes and interests. Guests regularly send notes of thanks and mention Ian in online reviews.

The Great George team is inspired daily by his enthusiasm. Ian developed a half-day Guest Experience training program for new employees, sharing aspects of the hotel and the broader industry in PEI. A quarterly employee newsletter, Checking In with Ian, keeps the team apprised of new initiatives, upcoming guests, and key happenings at the hotel and within the region. His recent The Great George Values Card is part of each hotel team member’s uniform—it guides them in their daily interactions, putting the hotel’s values into action statements.

Ian is the only Les Clefs d’Or concierge in PEI, a process that takes two years of ongoing training and testing to complete, and is nationally certified through Emerit as a Guest Services Attendant. He has won awards from the Murphy Hospitality Group and the Tourism Industry Association of PEI.

“Ian goes above and beyond every day to deliver memorable experiences for our guests and he challenges and inspires every one of our team members to do the same,” says Megan Hunt, The Great George Hotel general manager. “With his passion for our hotel, the tourism industry as a whole, and our beautiful province of PEI, Ian connects with our guests in a way that truly exemplifies the genuine Island hospitality that has become the trademark of our guest experience. You can literally feel the difference when Ian is on property—his energy and enthusiasm is unmatched. A perfect example of what happens when you invest in young people in this industry, we are truly lucky to work alongside such an outstanding professional.”

Ian’s enthusiasm for working in tourism in catching—frontline staff at The Great George aspire to his position, and he discusses industry career options with tourism and hospitality students at Holland College in PEI and Oulton College in New Brunswick.

Professionals with Ian’s desire to consistently go above and beyond are what make Canada a global tourism destination. His passion for the ultimate guest experience is a shining example of the more than 1.8 million individuals working in tourism and hospitality, daily creating incredible memories for visitors from around the world. Congratulations, Ian!

For more tourism success stories, subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.