Author: Tourism HR Canada
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,
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.
Tourism HR Canada is delighted to recognize Tony D’Ariano, who recently celebrated his 15th anniversary as Maintenance Manager at the Residence Inn by Marriott London Downtown.
Tony was announced as the 2019 winner of the Tourism Employee of the Year Award at the Canadian Tourism Awards, a gala evening held during 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.
“It was a pleasant surprise finding out that I won the award for Employee of the Year,” states Tony. “I am so humbled and extremely appreciative for being selected as the winner. My hotel journey began 15 years ago and has been a positive experience on my life to this day. I have met many wonderful people that have moulded me into the service fanatic that I am today.”
Nominated by General Manager Anna McNutt, Tony consistently goes above and beyond to provide service excellence to guests and colleagues alike.
“Tony is an integral part of the Residence Inn team and is as passionate today as the day he started his Marriott Journey,” shares Anna. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award. Tony contributes to training, team building, cost savings, sales efforts, especially repeat opportunities, guest relations, staff relations, innovative solutions, service recovery, and—above all—the passion to excel with a positive influence to the overall team environment.”
Anna details that Tony is on call to help guests day or night, no matter what the issue is. If he is unable to fix it, he’ll research until he finds a solution. She explains, “He will be the first to make recommendations to a contractor, project manager, or owner if it is going to improve the overall guest experience for the long term. He will stand up for continuous improvement resulting in minimal deficiencies during unexpected property visits.”
He is laser focused on efficiencies, keeping track of warranties and recycling and reusing every item he can. Items that can no longer be used by the hotel are found new homes through charities or recycling companies. He collaborates with outside contractors to keep costs low and minimize disruptions to staff and guests.
The safety of everyone at the hotel is top priority to Tony. He is head of the Health & Safety Committee, taking the lead on training. He is also a member of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) Safety Group. He keeps an eye on the hotel camera system outside his working hours and stays up New Year’s Eve to converse with returning partygoers to ensure no unregistered guests enter. Says Anna, “He was instrumental in the success of the hotel receiving Gold as Canada’s Safety Champion for two consecutive years through Occupational Safety.”
His passion for excellence extends beyond his regular duties. He’s driven guests to the airport when they were unable to squeeze into a taxi; he’s changed flat tires on guests’ cars; he’s coordinated a windshield replacement; he’s helped guests who’ve had a car accident miles from the hotel; he’s gone to pawnshops to track down lost items; he’s even helped a guest solve a plumbing problem they were having…at home…and provided the parts and tools for the guest to make the repair.
“As a manager, Tony leads by example through his Service Frame of Mind,” adds Anna. “He excels in teamwork and inspires his staff because he ‘walks-the-talk’. He is the first to volunteer, taking the lead in staff functions, event set-up, food and decoration pick-up, and in rallying the troops. He is the first one on site for our fund-raising or social events with a donation in hand, and the last one to leave in order to assist his team with the take-down and clean-up. As importantly, he gets us going in the wee hours by showing up with coffee for everyone. If anyone needs a drive home, he looks after that too.”
“Tourism is about creating experiences. Tony stands out by creating moments for both internal and external customers. He is the go-to guy and everyone on the Residence Inn team appreciates his contribution each and every day.”
Professionals with Tony’s passion to consistently go above and beyond are what make Canada a leading global tourism destination. His dedication to helping guests and colleagues offers a shining example of the more than 1.8 million individuals working in tourism, daily creating incredible memories for visitors from around the world. Congratulations, Tony!
A new initiative is building on last spring’s successful series of LGBT+ Inclusion Training workshops, conducted by CGLCC, Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Tourism HR Canada.
Thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Canadian Experiences Fund, this recently launched project supports Canadian tourism businesses as they seek to ensure their operations are open and welcoming to all travellers and workers.
Valued at US$200 billion, LGBT+ tourism is an opportunity for economic development with great potential for profitable, long-term products and services. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) states that LGBT+ travellers are recognized as travelling with greater frequency and with higher-than-average spending. Businesses have the opportunity to diversify and expand product and service offerings, and the option of extending seasons or creating new experiences.
The first inclusion workshops took place last month in interior British Columbia. The timing of the project kick-off was essential to reach mountain towns prior to their peak ski season.
The Golden area hosted one of these first sessions. CGLCC facilitated an inclusion workshop for owner-operators, management, and frontline staff of activity-based and accommodations businesses. Topics included:
- Why safe space is important in the workplace and what it looks like
- The internal and external benefits of LGBT+ inclusive space
- New strategies when interacting with LGBT+ employees and customers
- An opportunity to put new concepts and learning into practice
An additional component saw a local tourism stakeholder trained a new facilitator. The Train the Trainer component is intended to familiarize new CGLCC facilitators on the inclusion workshop content, in locations across Canada. CGLCC is based in Toronto, so having facilitators based across Canada is essential to the economic sustainability of these inclusion workshops.
Joanne Sweeting, Executive Director of Tourism Golden, pursued her region’s participation in this project after a local business brought the workshops to her attention. She stated that the facilitator training allows for a locally based resource that is affordable and accessible for small regional destinations. Her plan will be to host at least one inclusion workshop every year for business stakeholders in the Golden area, timing it to include seasonal staff.
“As the DMO, we will focus on education and assisting our businesses to develop Golden into a welcoming and inclusive destination, which at the moment is in the early stages,” she explains. “In preparation for the time when we can truly promote Golden as an inclusive destination directly to the LGBT+ market, Tourism Golden will begin to work on creating image, video and branding assets that speak to diversity. When we are product-ready we will begin actively marketing to the LGBT+ travel market segment to raise awareness and visitation in line with our overall organisational goals.”
She adds, “As an employer, our recruitment, training, employee handbook and workplace practices are already in place. We will, however, lead by making that inclusivity more obvious with things like rainbow stickers at the visitor centre and offices.”
CGLCC and Tourism HR Canada will be offering this workshop across Canada over the coming months. If your tourism business or Destination Marketing Organization would like to be a part of this project or would like more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tourism HR Canada is pleased to announce a new partnership with Windmill Microlending, a registered charity organization that offers low-interest microloans to skilled newcomers to Canada who struggle with the cost of upskilling, credentials, and accreditations.
Serving newcomers since 2005, Windmill provides up to $15,000 in microloans to pay for professional examinations, training, assessments, professional association fees, books and materials, living allowance, and other related expenses associated with obtaining credentials and training. Windmill explains that these internationally trained individuals often cannot access mainstream credit because they have low income and/or no Canadian credit history.
At the initial meeting, both Tourism HR Canada and Windmill Microlending identified some strategic areas of alignment with Tourism HR Canada’s Destination Employment project, considering that both organizations share a similar target audience (newcomers to Canada).
With Windmill Microlending’s long-standing relationship with immigrant serving agencies in Alberta and Saskatoon, Tourism HR Canada will leverage this opportunity to network and reach out to newcomers about participating in Destination Employment. Qualified beneficiaries can in-turn visit Windmill Microlending to access low-interest microloans.
Partnerships such as this one have become imperative to re-emphasize the importance of industry collaboration and the Government of Canada’s initiatives towards achieving a shared vision and common goal of helping newcomers secure sustainable jobs upon arrival in Canada. In the near future, other areas of strategic alliance will also be explored.
In November 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 5.3%, which is 0.8 percentage points higher than the rate reported in November 2018, and higher than the previous month (October 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 4.6%.
At 5.3%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.5%.
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 3.8% in Ontario to 17.1% in Prince Edward Island.
The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exceptions of Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Manitoba, were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).
Tourism employment comprised 10.8% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of November.
|Tourism Industry Group2||Unemployment Rate –
|Unemployment Rate –
|Food and Beverage||5.0%||4.8%|
|Recreation and Entertainment||4.6%||7.2%|
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 November 16, 2019.
Tourism HR Canada recently released a new report, The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector: Growth Aspirations Face Labour Challenges. As part of the research that led to this report, the Conference Board of Canada surveyed 400 tourism businesses across Canada. This Tourism Outlook and Labour Issues Survey gathered data on the issues affecting these businesses, including those related to labour. The survey asked about recent business performance and their expectations for the coming years.
The most significant challenges facing tourism businesses? Increasing operational costs and labour issues, reported by 69.0% and 63.3% of respondents, respectively. Other issues were reported to be challenging by a much smaller number of businesses. The third most prominent issue was the lack of prioritization of tourism in government policy decisions (reported by 31.5% of respondents), followed by concerns about the Canadian economy (27.3%), and concerns about competition from the sharing economy (26.3%).
Respondents who indicated that labour was a significant challenge were asked to rate specific issues as having a high, medium, or low impact on their business. According to respondents, a number of issues were having a significant effect on their businesses. The most impactful was the problem of finding qualified, reliable employees: 85.5% of respondents indicated this was a problem for their business. Respondents also reported that the wage expectations of potential employees were too high and that there was a shortage of skilled labour in their local area. Tourism businesses were additionally dealing with a lack of interest in tourism jobs amongst young workers and struggles retaining staff.
For the accommodations industry, the most difficult occupations for which to find and retain staff were housekeepers and cooks. Within the food and beverage services industry, cooks, kitchen helpers, and executive chefs were most difficult. More than 52.3% of accommodations industry respondents reported difficulties recruiting and retaining housekeeping room attendants, up from 44.0% in 2015. In food and beverage services, 46.4% of respondents indicated they had difficulty recruiting and retaining cooks.
Respondents were also asked to identify the number of positions they wanted to fill at their establishment and the number of positions for which they were able to find workers, indicating how many positions remained vacant. Positions were divided into two types: existing positions that had been vacated due to turnover of existing staff and new positions that business owners wanted to create to accommodate expanding demand for their services. The results revealed that 9.8% of positions vacated due to turnover go unfilled, while 16.3% of newly created positions remained vacant. Food and beverage services businesses had the hardest time filling new positions, while recreation and entertainment businesses reported the greatest vacancy among positions created by turnover.
Almost half (47.0%) of tourism businesses reported increased revenues for 2018 (compared to 2017). Despite this, only 32.6% reported that business conditions improved compared with 2017. In fact, perceptions regarding business conditions were nearly evenly split between those who thought conditions improved (32.6%), stayed the same (34.4%), or weakened (30.6%) in 2018.
Increasingly problematic labour issues may cause the perceived weakening of business conditions in spite of increasing revenue. When asked about the tangible impacts tourism businesses face due to labour issues, respondents said that they caused increased labour costs, which in turn force them to raise prices, which curtails demand. They also cause businesses to scale back on the services they offer and what services they do offer may be reduced in quality.
Under these conditions, businesses are concerned about long-term reputational damage—which they may see as undermining their long-term viability.
Looking forward, a large share of respondents expects the challenges they face today to prevail. Looking at the next three to five years, 78.3% of businesses expect operational costs to be a significant challenge and 69.5% expect labour issues to be a significant challenge.
The findings of this survey were used to shape the final projections of labour supply and demand in Canada’s tourism sector. Those projections show 93,000 jobs that could exist due to demand by 2035 going unfilled because there are not enough workers to fill those jobs. The demand that goes unmet due to these shortages will leave $10.1 billion in tourism revenue on the table—that’s 3.2% of all revenues that the tourism sector could earn over the study’s forecast horizon.
The full results of the survey, including information on expectations for tourism demand over the next 12 months, can be found in the full report, The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector: Growth Aspirations Face Labour Challenges, available from emerit.ca.