Month: March 2018

Designed to improve access to tourism labour market information, the newly launched Rapid reSearch allows anyone to search several of Tourism HR Canada’s labour market datasets using a simple interface.

For many years, Tourism HR Canada has acquired customized tabulations of datasets. This has provided us with a full picture of the tourism labour market and allowed us to share the information with our stakeholders.

Rapid reSearch makes it easy for you to search our customized datasets directly.

Compare data on the number of jobs, hours worked, annual salary, and hourly wages for multiple tourism occupations. You can easily select the province, territory, industry group, or occupation of interest. You can also select data specific to gender, age, immigrant status, and work status.

Access Rapid reSearch to explore the following:

Provincial-Territorial Human Resource Module (PTHRM): The PTHRM provides the following statistics for the tourism sector and for each industry group, region, and occupation: number of jobs, hours worked, and compensation. These statistics are available by sex, by work status, by age group, and by immigrant status.

Census (2011): The census provides the most detailed information available on the people in Canada’s labour force. Our customized census data shows the profile of tourism employees, including gender, age, work patterns, place of birth, mother tongue, equity groups, school attendance, and education levels.

Labour Force Survey: Customized labour force survey data shows seasonally unadjusted estimates of employment, unemployment, and unionization rates.

Labour Supply and Demand: This data shows the estimated demand for jobs, supply of labour, and any resulting gaps that will leave jobs unfilled for the years 2010 to 2035. Data is available by province, industry group, and occupation.

Tourism Business Counts: These state the number of tourism businesses in existence in Canada by year, province/territory, and industry group.

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Tourism HR Canada is pleased to announce the availability of the third in its series of three labour supply and demand reports.

Bottom Line: Bridging the Labour Gap quantifies the effect of strategies that could fill the 240,000-job shortfall in the tourism sector.

Specifically, it quantifies the number of jobs that would be filled by:

  1. Increasing levels of immigration and increasing non-permanent residents’ transition to permanent residency
  2. Increasing the attractiveness of tourism as a place of work
  3. Implementing workplace literacy and essential skills training

The first report in the series, Bottom Line: Labour Challenges Threaten Tourism’s Growth, shows that spending on tourism goods and services in Canada could rise from $167 billion in 2010 to more than $287 billion in 2035. That spending will cause the demand for labour to grow 41 per cent, from 1.6 million jobs in 2010 to 2.29 million jobs in 2035.

With labour supply expected to grow only 25 per cent during the same period, 240,000 jobs would remain unfilled, stifling growth and impacting service in a globally competitive sector.

The new report shows that action can be taken to mitigate this scenario. In fact, it shows that some stakeholders are already implementing actions that will reduce the shortage—although work remains to fill the outstanding jobs that will be created by growing demand.

The national summary additionally looks at the potential effect of meeting the Government of Canada’s growth targets for international tourist arrivals, contained in the new Tourism Vision.

Access the full report and the national summary on

Full Report

Bottom Line: Bridging the Labour Gap

National Summary (available free of charge)

Bottom Line: Bridging the Labour Gap (National Summary)

Tourism operators are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain workers. Over the past 17 years, 100,000 jobs were unfilled. These were advertised positions for which tourism employers were unable to find workers, and despite demand, business expansions never occurred because they lacked the workers to deliver on the services. These vacancies accounted for $11 billion in lost revenues.

Looking forward, the sector continues to face a chronic shortage of workers and the competition for labour is increasing both with other industries and worldwide. Another 140,000 jobs are projected to be unfilled between 2018 and 2035. With the growth of tourism in Canada and the targets set out by Canada’s Tourism Vision, an additional shortfall of 60,000 workers is expected by 2025.

Tourism employers are engaging new strategies and changing business practices to respond to the lack of workers. Reduced hours of operation, reduced services, and increased automation are examples of how employers are coping with the shortages and learning to work with fewer staff. To follow are 12 new strategies that can help employers find and keep qualified workers:

1. Embrace the Gig Economy

With the finite number of workers available, especially in rural areas and during peak seasons, employers are hiring freelance workers to complement the core staff at their operations. Freelance workers enable companies to add workers for one-off, periodic, or short-term gigs. These workers can also bring needed skills to augment the services provided by existing employees, helping companies grow in areas where they would otherwise not be able.

Companies working with freelance workers have altered their HR practices, such as increasing training for anchor employees to ensure they have a well-rounded, broad set of skills to deliver on core services, or collaborating with other businesses in the community to synchronize the scheduling of workers that are shared by several employers.

2. Work on Your Human Capital Competency & Capacity

One of the main reasons people quit a job is because their manager is a dud: the manager lacks the skills or tools to effectively support and manage others. Even in small tourism operations, making people management a priority pays off in spades—the investment in skills and tools helps managers be more effective and cope with HR matters.

3. Rethink and Rework Work

The new work order means a new mindset: time to focus on skills and not jobs. Instead of posting ‘Want Ads’ for filling traditional job roles or occupations, there is a movement to seek workers who can perform specific tasks or duties, or for work that requires specialized expertise. This shift includes the segmentation of work: breaking down the tasks and organizing the work around the employee’s skills and interests. In other words, tailoring the job to fit the candidate or worker.

This new mindset looks at every applicant as an opportunity: what skills do they bring and how can we design a job that fits their abilities and interests?

4. Employ Robots (in Disguise)

Automation is not a solution to replacing most jobs in tourism, but investing in the right technology to augment services and aid workers can increase productivity and help extend the types of products or services offered.

5. Increase Heterogeneity

Increasingly, employers are learning how to tap into labour markets they have not traditionally gone after. Diversification strategies help companies broaden their workforce by drawing from a larger pool of workers, many of whom are seeking jobs that fit their lifestyle and are ideal for tourism businesses, such as:

  • New Canadians seeking work experience in Canada to gain a footing in the labour market
  • Retirees seeking casual or part-time work to augment their incomes, maintain social ties, or ‘give back’ by mentoring or passing on their knowledge and experience
  • Indigenous peoples and other under-represented groups in the labour market, who bring a wealth of skills and cultural capital that can enhance the tourism experience that visitors/customers are seeking

Companies are employing new strategies to attract a more diverse workforce: partnerships with immigrant serving agencies, getting involved in cultural and community events, hosting information sessions with the demographic market they are seeking, adapting workplaces to accommodate cultural or mobility needs, increasing training for new hires (including language training), or ensuring work schedules recognize traditional holidays—all are examples that have made a great difference.

6. Work on Retention Strategies

Employee turnover is not inevitable. While some turnover can be expected, poor management and structure can cause turnover levels to be excessive. Better understanding the causes of turnover enables a company to make changes that will mitigate the issue. Turnover affects productivity and employee morale, has an impact on service quality, and is very costly and can result in significant revenue shortfalls.

To reduce turnover rates, tourism companies must first understand the reasons employees leave. The solution to reducing turnover is to address the root causes. For example, are employees leaving for any of the following reasons?

  • Supervisors who provide inadequate support, or are rude or difficult to work with
  • Job did not meet expectations and faced with an unpleasant experience of doing work that is unsatisfactory
  • Lack of skills or knowledge; inability to cope with demands
  • Excessive or unrealistic workloads
  • Poor or toxic work environment; feeling of not being treated fairly or well
  • Being micromanaged and lacking autonomy, especially ability make routine decisions
  • Organizational instability: worry about the financial health or direction of the company
  • Lack of competitive wage/salary or benefits
  • Professional growth opportunities unavailable

Any of the examples listed (and other root causes) can be addressed by improving HR practices, putting the right tools and supports in place, accommodating the individual worker’s needs, and other strategies.

7. Invest in Your HR Brand, Employer Destination

Tourism operators tend to focus on promoting their business as a destination for visitors/customers. The same strategy can be used to promote the business as a destination for employment, i.e. ‘an employer of choice’.

Tourism businesses that take time to define their ‘value proposition’ and leverage their brand can differentiate their job offer over the competition.

8. Make Your Business a Centre of Learning, Life Experiences

Forget about life-long ‘careers’ or the prospect that workers are seeking long-term jobs. Although this is true for many, it’s rarely the case for young people, people in transitions, or those filling jobs that are considered less-skilled.

One the most persuasive reasons for job seekers to accept a job offer is if the company offers a job that will provide a rich learning experience: something that will help ‘build a resume’ and demonstrate they have gained essential experience and skills which are transferable. Investing in training and enabling workers to utilize the knowledge and skills they have gained will prevent them from moving on to other employment prematurely.

9. Boost Productivity

Optimizing the human capital of the existing staff creates a healthier and more productive workplace, and in turn happier workers who choose to stay longer. It starts with assessing the human capital; figure out:

  • How many staff are under-qualified?
  • How many staff are over-qualified?
  • How many have skills that are under-utilized?
  • How many have obsolete skills?

Once a company has a better handle on its human capital, set individual ‘learning plans’ or strategies with each employee, to help them optimize the skills they possess. The learning plan may focus on re-training or upskilling, mentoring, or identifying new career paths or ways to take advantage of unused talent/skills. Boosting productivity is all about aligning job opportunities with staff capabilities and interests.

10. Seek Partnerships, Include Community in Business Plan

Collaborating with education and other community service providers will help tourism employers connect with influencers that help job seekers make employment decisions. Operational or business plans should include strategies and resources to build formal relationships with community service providers.

11. Provide Stability through Predictable Employment

Offering standard work schedules and career guidance creates predictability and enables workers to schedule their lives. This means they can plan on further education or training, coordinate child or elder care, accommodate seasonal employment, and manage work-life balance—all key components of a supportive, sought-after workplace. Knowing there are clear paths for advancement will help retain those with ambitions to stay in the sector, and may also reveal career opportunities to those who had considered tourism jobs as merely a stepping stone to other industries.

12. See Business as a Human Capital Venture

In a sector based on experiences and authenticity, staff can make or break a tourism business. Those who invest in their people—training, incentives, perks, opportunities for advancement, safety, diversity—reap what they sow. Employees who feel valued and supported will remain committed to a business; their genuine desire to work there will be felt by guests and augment the overall customer experience. Additionally, word-of-mouth referrals factor strongly into recruitment—a solid reputation will encourage top talent to seek opportunities to work with the business and assure entrants to the workforce that the business is a perfect place to learn and grow.

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Special Edition of Welcoming International Visitors Available Free of Charge

Since 2010, when Canada received approved destination status in China, the number of Chinese visitors coming to Canada has more than tripled. The Government of Canada has set a goal to double Chinese visitation to Canada by 2021. That means over 600,000 additional visitors! Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang named 2018 the Canada-China Year of Tourism. This means new opportunities for Canadian tourism businesses.

To celebrate Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018, we’re working with the Government of Canada to offer a special edition of “Welcoming International Visitors” free of charge to all Canadian businesses. These downloadable factsheets provide tourism and hospitality businesses with a quick, easy-to-use reference to better serve Chinese visitors.​

The bundle includes a two-page factsheet for each of the following occupations:

  • Front Desk Agent
  • Housekeeping Room Attendant
  • Director of Housekeeping
  • Event Coordinator
  • Food & Beverage Server, Bartender, and Banquet Server
  • Food and Beverage Manager
  • Tour Guide
  • Tourism Visitor Information Counsellor
  • Supervisor

Be prepared to exceed expectations—access this free resource today. Please use Group Code ATCC2018CCYT when creating an account during checkout.

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Our sincere thanks to all participants in our annual survey of partners and stakeholders and to those who distributed the survey to their members. Your insightful feedback allows us to respond to industry needs and keep on top of emerging issues affecting our sector.

We asked a lot of key questions and are starting to dig through the robust data. Detailed analyses will follow, but here is a preliminary look at the highlights so far.

The sector’s priorities for the next five years will be skills upgrading for all staff, be they supervisors, managers, or frontline. Skills upgrading has consistently been the top priority since we launched this survey in 2016. A close second is finding ways to retain existing employees. Succession planning remains a high priority, as does using technology to improve productivity. Interestingly, increasing automation of business processes was the lowest priority, suggesting the industry sees technology as a tool for workforce enhancement rather than workforce replacement.

Human Capital Priorities: Next Five Years

Respondents told us tourism’s skilled labour shortage is having many effects. The most pressing included managers doing “double duty”: filling in for missing frontline staff. While every manager and supervisor does this upon occasion, when it becomes commonplace the negative effects are compounded. Regularly filling frontline roles pulls managers away from their main duties—one of which is finding ways to mitigate the impact of missing frontline staff.

Labour shortages are also eroding businesses’ ability to compete and making it difficult for them to expand their offerings. Hampered growth is a serious problem at a time when demand for tourism services is growing rapidly.

Effect of the Skilled Labour Shortage

When asked to identify the most pressing issue affecting their ability to attract and retain workers, respondents’ answers varied, but a few trends did emerge. Businesses were concerned about competition, whether from other tourism businesses or other industries. The sector’s reputation, the inability to pay higher wages, and, for many businesses, location also hampered attraction and retention efforts.

Multiple factors affect tourism and hospitality, whether for good or for ill. Respondents felt that in the coming years increased competition from other sectors, lack of funding for HR needs, and changing government policies would each have a negative effect. They then identified new and expanding markets, increasing immigration and diversification, increasing use of technology, and the introduction of more sustainable practices as positive factors. Respondents were divided evenly on whether the economy would be a positive or negative influence.

Effect on Tourism’s Labour Market

Answers to “In which of the following areas will we see the greatest change or activity that will affect the growth of tourism in the coming year?” reflected this uncertainty— the economy was the first choice by a large margin. When asked what specific economic issue they considered when responding, many told us they were concerned about increasing costs for businesses, the repercussions of changing relations with the United States, and the potential effect this all could have on people’s discretionary spending. Clearly the tourism sector shares the general sense of economic uncertainty currently felt across all areas of the economy.

Area of Greatest Change Affecting Tourism

Finally, 48 percent of respondents were not subscribed to HR Insider. Spread the word: share your copy so all tourism and hospitality stakeholders can keep up to date on—and react to—the latest HR trends that will affect them.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In February 2018, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 5.6%, which is 0.9 percentage points lower than the rate reported in February 2017, and the same as the previous month (January 2018) when the unemployment rate stood at 5.6%.

At 5.6%, tourism’s unemployment rate was well below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 6.1%.

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

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 4.2% in British Columbia to 16.5% in Prince Edward Island.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, except for Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 11.2% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of February.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – February 2017/2018
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
February 2017
Unemployment Rate –
February 2018
Tourism 6.5% 5.6%
Accommodations 11.0% 9.9%
Food and Beverage 6.0% 5.4%
Recreation and Entertainment 8.3% 7.4%
Transportation 3.0% 1.9%
Travel Services 7.2% 4.5%
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 February 17, 2018.

This is the second in our series of “milestone” articles we will be publishing throughout 2018 to celebrate 25 years of coordinating, facilitating, and enabling innovative programs and services for the tourism sector.

Tourism HR Canada and its partners have proudly developed a professional certification model that is second only to apprenticeship when it comes to the number of individuals in the sector obtaining credentials.

Following the development, refinement, and ratification of the first batch of national occupational standards for the tourism sector, Tourism HR Canada grew its service offering by providing industry-based assessments and a professional designation benchmarked against those standards.

The genesis for the professional certification model drew strongly from a comprehensive report published in the late 1980s by the government of Alberta. This same report was used to recommend the development of competency-based occupational standards, with the assessment against those standards becoming a national certification program, now available under the Emerit brand.

In addition to recommending the development of a certification system based on benchmarked standards, the report also recommended a focus on the competencies required to demonstrate knowledge, performance, and experience in a specific occupation. This involved creating a totally new model that would focus on the recognition of frontline staff, rather than a traditional apprenticeship model. The strategy was to provide recognition and demonstrate that these occupations required knowledge and needed to be able to be performed in a real-world setting, and ensure those obtaining the credential had a requisite amount of relevant experience.

The public policy of the day recognized the merit of this endeavor and had the foresight to invest in a program that continues to serve the sector more than 20 years later. Funding was secured, and development of an assessment model tied to the newly established national occupational standards (NOS) began in earnest in July 1996.

To assist the fledging organization, provincial and territorial partners (who were also Board members) agreed to lead development for specific occupations. For instance, Nova Scotia took the lead on front desk agent, British Columbia on food and beverage server, and so forth. This collaborative approach helped to build cohesion and consistency while sharing the rather daunting workload involved in the three-year project.

While the development of both the NOS and the certification program were necessary in growing the professionalism of those working in the sector, it was certification and the bestowing of an industry-developed and -recognized credential that had the strongest impact on those working in tourism.

The certification was based on the prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) model, where prior learning and experience are recognized and have real value and credit that can be applied to the certification process. This approach allowed for the development of a “challenge model” to obtain the industry credential—candidates were not obliged to engage in training before challenging the certification. The rationale was that many of the skills and much of the knowledge required to be successfully certified could be learned through on-the-job experience.

Candidates were, and are still, encouraged to familiarize themselves with the NOS before challenging certification, since the assessment is based on benchmarked standards that could include aspects of the occupation to which the candidate has never been exposed. Related training was launched a few years later to assist those with less workplace experience—a milestone we’ll explore in another feature.

Over the past twenty years, the profile of the candidate looking to obtain certification has grown to include individuals seeking an industry credential, but lacking the requisite experience. Many of these individuals are just entering tourism and hospitality, but already see the value of having an industry credential. Tourism HR Canada and its partners recognized this changing demographic, and added flexibility into the certification model to ensure we are serving the broadest number of clients, while maintaining the integrity of the model and continuing to assist businesses in finding, preparing, and employing the professionals they need. Over this same period, the certification programs available grew to include supervisory and a few key managerial occupations, as well as two “certificate” programs focused on new entrants to the sector.

A planned update to the national occupational standards will be accomplished through the development of a Competency Framework for tourism and hospitality, and updates and improvements to the certification program will follow. Stay tuned (or subscribe) to Tourism HR Insider for progress on these updates, taking place over the next three years.

Emerit Professional Certification by the Numbers

  • More than 25,000 industry professionals certified
  • 23 national certification occupations
  • 2 international certification occupations
  • Top three certification occupations:
    1. Housekeeping Room Attendant
    2. Food & Beverage Server
    3. Front Desk Agent

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.