Month: November 2021
Statistics Canada has just released its job vacancy rates data for the month of September. The number of vacancies in the accommodation and food services industry was truly unprecedented.
Tourism HR Canada expected to see a slight decrease from August to September, given the reduced demand for tourism goods and services that usually accompanies the end of the summer season and return to school.
This year, however, the number of vacant jobs spiked to nearly 200,000. Almost 40,000 more jobs were vacant in September than in August.
This means 14.4% of jobs in this industry were unstaffed, impacting the ability to remain open to full capacity, stretching current staff members’ workloads, and likely diminishing service levels. Tourism HR Canada will continue to work with tourism stakeholders across the country to build on our coordinated, concerted effort to place tourism as a destination for employment and show that demand for employees is far outpacing supply. And this is demand that was only just starting to pick up as border restrictions were eased. As more restrictions lift (such as PCR tests) and the rate of vaccines in children increases, this demand will continue to rise. Our sector must ensure we have the skilled staff to welcome these visitors as they return.
The number of job vacancies did drop slightly in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, falling just shy of 1,500 to 16,380 (leaving 5.5% of jobs unfilled). However, this industry is much more seasonal in nature, so there may be a return to higher rates in the spring.
Below are the charts for each of these industry groups. Further information can be found on the Stats Canada website, including data for other industries—tourism is far from the only sector facing historically high vacancy rates, leading to increased competition for workers.
|Accommodation and Food Services|
|May 2021||June 2021||July 2021||August 2021||September 2021|
|Job vacancy rate||7.8%||12.2%||11.6%||12.3%||14.4%|
|Arts, Entertainment and Recreation|
|May 2021||June 2021||July 2021||August 2021||September 2021|
|Job vacancy rate||6.7%||8.4%||4.8%||6.3%||5.5%|
Tourism HR Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) today released a policy paper featuring insights and considerations to frame the upcoming National Policy Forum: Priorities for Tackling Labour Challenges in Tourism. The event will take place on November 30 as part of TIAC’s annual Tourism Congress.
The National Policy Forum aims to provide delegates the opportunity to help shape TIAC’s advocacy priorities over the coming year to address chronic and systemic labour challenges. Objectives will be outlined, the role of advocacy – including the key players – will be reviewed, and the issue will be presented and then discussed by an expert panel representing different sectors of the industry. And, lastly, a draft advocacy strategy framework will be presented for deliberation and reaction from delegates.
Tourism HR Canada President and CEO Philip Mondor is pleased to be part of the expert panel. Joining him are: Kevin Eshkawkogan, President & CEO, Indigenous Tourism Ontario; Susie Grynol, CEO, Hotel Association Canada; Rebecca Mackenzie, President and CEO, Culinary Tourism Alliance; and Darren Reeder, Executive Director, Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association. The forum will be facilitated by Huw Williams, President, Impact Public Affairs.
Students can bring fresh perspectives and welcome enthusiasm to the organizations who hire them while helping to reduce the workload. Failure to prepare, however, can result in unmet expectations and wasted time for both student and employer. As Propel accepts applications from tourism sector businesses interested in participating in our winter Student Work Placement Program, we offer the following friendly advice for maximizing the experience.
Plan a List of Tasks Ahead of Time
Ideally, a work placement (internship, co-op, apprenticeship, or other paid work-integrated learning initiative) will be a win-win for both student and employer. In order to accomplish this, provide your student with real tasks, not just busy work. Brainstorm a list of duties and potential duties in advance. Start your student off with simpler, less crucial tasks, and allow them the opportunity to graduate to more difficult and consequential work. From the student’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a corner, ignored. They’ll fail to gain the experience they seek, and the resulting word of mouth may be damaging to your future recruitment efforts.
Communicate Your Objectives and Expectations on Day One
Greet your student with an open and honest conversation about the road ahead. Provide them with a job description and seek feedback. If you intend to provide special training, now’s the time to let them know. Part of their objective will be to receive a strong letter of recommendation at the conclusion of the work placement, so it’s helpful to spell out expectations and discuss how performance will impact the nature of your potential endorsement. Remember, a work placement is about gaining experience, so base your appraisal around attitudes such as willingness to learn, as opposed to perfect execution.
Provide Your Student with Valuable Exposure
Think ahead: will there be meetings, conferences, or special events during your student’s term? Could they be included? If possible, expose them to multiple leaders in various roles. Bring them into the loop and give them an opportunity to make professional connections.
Designate Them an Enthusiastic Mentor
A student can be a resource, but also requires an investment of time. The student’s experience will be enriched if they are mentored by an individual who makes an honest effort to interact in a meaningful way. Students who are tossed around the workplace like a hot potato will fail to gain needed career advice. While other staff members should be encouraged to interact and share perspectives with the student, they shouldn’t compete haphazardly for their time.
Ultimately, your company may wish to hire the student on a more permanent basis. A strong mentorship relationship will help your company gain a more complete understanding of their potential, and may encourage the student to stick around.
Invite Your Student to Share
Harness your student’s enthusiasm and fresh ideas. Ask them about their motivations and areas of interest. Encourage them to ask questions on an ongoing basis. They may have a hidden talent that benefits your business!
Maximize the Programs and Resources Available
The Propel Student Work Placement Program is now accepting applications from businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector that are interested in hiring a student for the winter term. Qualifying employers will be provided with a wage subsidy of up to $7,500 for each student hired through the program. For more information, or to sign up for a virtual info session, please visit PropelCareers.ca.
Additional tools and programs are offered in partnership with Tourism HR Canada. Emerit Tourism Training supports a wide range of tourism-related occupations with National Occupational Standards, online and paper-based training, and professional certification for tourism employers and students. Please visit emerit.ca for the full list.
This article was originally published in STAY Magazine.
I was born into Canada’s hospitality industry. My grandfather was a hotelier and restaurateur. He owned and operated hotels and restaurants in Vancouver, B.C., in the early and formative years of my life. His was the generation that understood the intimate and interdependent relationship between hotels and restaurants. More pointedly, he understood the relationship between hoteliers and restaurateurs as collaborators in what he always described as the most exciting business in the world.
These days, from my vantage point, we are much more divided. We even argue over the identity of our broader industry: Are we hospitality? Are we tourism? Or are we merely businesses?
I believe we run the risk of creating greater divisions between those who own and those who operate.
But all is not lost.
To reflect on the present day is to feel and attempt to understand the anguish of labour-market pressure on the Canadian hotel sector. We’ve done studies, provided commentary and proposed solutions. But I’m not sure anyone has yet managed to gain enough perspective to understand the depth of the workforce crisis this industry is facing. And if we are being honest, this did not come as a surprise. Very much like climate change, we have all been witness to the slow depletion of one of our most essential and unrenewable resources—our people. This is not to paint an entire industry with the same brush. Many organizations and regions across Canada have done incredible work to recruit, retain and empower their talent. But we must consider human capital in our industry from a macro point of view. We have a problem. And it will not resolve itself.
In late September I was fortunate to attend the Ontario Snow Resorts Association annual conference. I spoke to three groups of resort leaders from varied levels and regions to help them cope with the recurring labour challenges affecting them all. I couldn’t come to the conference with a silver-bullet solution. I had no tricks or secret pools of talent they could rapidly tap into. Instead, I decided to help them develop their leadership practices in the hopes that they would build even more resilience—the strength and speed of their responses to adversity. What matters most is that leaders during times of disruption have the courage and capacity to stand tall, and the emotional intelligence to support the workers they already have as they rebuild their teams.
Reading the faces and hearing the sentiments from hotel industry professionals who remain engaged in their careers provided clarity on the impact this labour crisis is having on them from a mental health perspective, and a capped capacity perspective. But following the same approach with those hotel industry workers who—by their own volition or because of their employer—made an exit from the hotel workforce over the last 18 months, what is evident is that most of those who left the industry during the pandemic are deeply hurt.
No one should fault businesses that had to take drastic and evasive action to survive this global health crisis by laying off or terminating staff. Associations and industry leaders worked tirelessly to lobby governments for aid and sustainable support. But no amount of money or training, nor incentives, will reel a group of people back into an industry they feel they’ve been abandoned by. And, the recurring rhetoric suggesting that “affected workers would rather just stay home and collect government assistance than return to work” has only deepened the schism. This was, at our peak, a very hardworking workforce in a very demanding industry. Being accused of being lazy or entitled, with so little acknowledgment of systemic deficiencies and injustices in the industry, has only created more distance between workers and industry.
Where do we go from here?
We ought to think about the hotel industry labour crisis as akin to a very damaged relationship. We would be wise to recognize that there is no going back. Today, we are presented with the opportunity to not only build back better, but we must build back differently.
We need to get back to basics. Such as employing early talent strategies around making the hotel industry a destination for careers and career development; a more pronounced focus on people-first workplace cultures; developing our emotional intelligence and the emotional and social skills of our team members, such as empathy, which is a skill that we all need during this crisis.
For many at the top of the hotel industry, we arrived where we are because we started with an understanding of our passion. And we aligned that passion with opportunity. The industry needed passionate, career-minded hotel industry professionals then as much as we do now. Other industries have surpassed our value proposition for career decisions. Generally speaking, college and university enrolment in hospitality and tourism programs across Canada is in a state of steady decline. Even more so from the domestic student base. The alarm bells should be ringing. And the reimagining should be well underway. We need new solutions. We need new approaches.
I remain an optimist. I remain a big believer in the potential of building rich and rewarding careers in Canada’s hotel industry. Let’s learn from our recent past and grow towards a more positive, inclusive and diversity-rich future. Let’s learn from our long history. And let’s reinvent our workforce grounded as an industry of collaborators in what I’ve always described as “the most exciting business in the world.”
Tools and Resources
Human Capital and Early Talent Strategies
Tourism HR Canada is a pan-Canadian organization with a mandate aimed at building a world-leading tourism workforce. It facilitates, coordinates and enables human resource development activities that support a globally competitive and sustainable industry and foster the development of a dynamic and resilient workforce. The organization works with the industry to attract, train and retain valuable tourism professionals by giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed in their careers and entrepreneurial endeavours. They are a wealth of resources to help hotels with recruitment, retention and human capital strategies, including their newly launched Propel program. The Propel Student Work Placement Program offers tourism and hospitality employers access to up to $7,500 in wage subsidies when they hire a post-secondary student for work-integrated learning: an internship, a co-op placement, a work experience placement and more.
For more information visit:
Combining People and Profit Practices
Conscious Economics is a national not-for-profit organization and global social enterprise headquartered in Canada, with a 10-year history and proven track record in economic education, financial literacy programs, research, events and experiential learning. They have staged over 1,000 events that have gathered youth, business leaders, policymakers, change agents, educators, industry associations, charities and not-for-profits. While they engage with all communities, they maintain a specialized focus on vulnerable populations, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Women and Artists. They offer impactful programs focused both on people and profit.
For more information visit:
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is a global leader in the marketing and development of Indigenous tourism experiences. ITAC’s members are Indigenous-owned and controlled businesses from every province and territory in the country. Intentionally including Indigenous people as part of the hotel industry provides a wealth of leadership and growth potential.
For more information visit:
Joe Baker is a passionate leader within Canada’s tourism, hospitality and education sectors and a vocal advocate for a resilient, inclusive, future-forward industry. He is CEO of Joe Baker & Co., a human capital consultancy focused on strengthening hospitality and tourism organizations and people. Baker was dean at Centennial College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts where he led the most significant transformation in the school’s over 50-year history. He serves on the board of directors at Tourism HR Canada, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario and is on the editorial advisory board for SUSTAIN Magazine.
Joe can be found everywhere @thejoebaker.
Tourism HR Canada’s Propel Student Work Placement Program recently featured on the Mindset in Motion (MIM) podcast, made for university and college educators, career counsellors, and leaders invested in supporting students and recent graduates with the tools and resources to thrive in their hopeful careers.
Listen as host Bill Heinrich speaks with Elyse Leblanc and Joe Baker, discussing how the tourism and hospitality industry is innovating to support post-secondary students and graduates with opportunities to gain skills and get hired.
Elyse Leblanc is the Manager, Talent Acquisition, North and Central America, for Accor hotels and has a career in human resources that spans over a decade. Joe Baker is a passionate leader within Canada’s tourism, hospitality and education sectors. He is a vocal advocate for a resilient, inclusive, future-forward industry. He is currently working with Tourism HR Canada on Propel.
Learn about their first-hand insights on how the tourism and hospitality industries are working to attract and retain the right talent to rapidly grow and adapt.
MIM is brought to you by Orbis’s Mindset division and delivered by Orbis’s Director of Mindset, Bill Heinrich, and Jeni Riddell, Director of Success and Product Deployment. Orbis is a two-decade-long leader in technological innovation and deployment supporting higher education partners to deliver on the promise of student career readiness. Mindset is Orbis’s division that connects big ideas to repeatable educational practices, guiding informed decision making, and learning experiences that support student success.
Employment across the economy stayed essentially flat between September and October. The total gain of 9,700 workers (an increase of 0.05%) was due to a decrease of 51,200 full-time workers and a gain of 61,000 part-time workers.
Within the tourism sector, employment decreased by 38,200 due to drop of 72,300 full-time workers and a gain of 34,100 part-time workers. This was a slightly larger decline than average for October, but larger employment declines in tourism have occurred before: in 2018, 2016, and 2010. While any decline in tourism employment is concerning as the sector seeks to recover from the pandemic, we are not seeing larger than expected declines in tourism sector employment following the summer season.
Data reflects labour market conditions during the week of October 10 to 16, 2021.
- Tourism employment across Canada fell by 38,200 from September to October, a decline of 2.2%.
- As of October, 1,724,000 individuals were working in the tourism sector’s five industry groups, an increase of 61,500 employees compared to 2020.
- Compared to October 2019, there were over 350,000 fewer employed workers in the tourism sector.
- Full-time tourism employment was down 21.3% compared to 2019, while part-time employment was down 10.1%.
- Four of the five tourism industry groups experienced employment declines in October.
- Employment losses are particularly large in the travel services industry, where employment is down by over 60%.
- In August, job vacancies within the accommodation and food services sector surged to 156,755. The vacancy rate in that sector exceeded its June high to reach an unprecedented 12.3%.
- In October, four provinces had lower levels of tourism employment than in 2020: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and British Columbia.
- Sectors that have gained employment since October 2019 have added 553,800 jobs. The sectors that have lost employment have 494,600 fewer workers.
- The number of unemployed workers declined by 68,100 between September and October, dropping the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate to 6.0%.
Please note: To allow comparisons with tourism sector data, which sees significant employment fluctuations over the year, we use seasonally unadjusted data for both tourism employment and overall employment.
Tourism Employment Rate
Tourism employment across Canada fell by 38,200 from September to October, a decline of 2.2%. It was the second month of declining in tourism employment, following a decline of 130,000 in September. Unlike September, when employment declines occurred exclusively among workers under the age of 25, employment declines occurred in multiple age groups in October (see Figure 2).
As of October, 1,724,000 individuals were working in the tourism sector’s five industry groups, an increase of 61,500 employees compared to 2020. However, compared to the same month in 2019, over 350,000 fewer individuals worked in the tourism sector.
Four of the five tourism industry groups experienced employment declines in October. Only the recreation and entertainment industry experienced a small increase in employment as the gains in part-time work were greater than the loss of full-time employment. All industries experienced a loss of full-time workers while four gained part-time workers. Only the transportation industry lost both full and part time workers (see Figure 3).
As a percent, the greatest employment loss was in the accommodations industry, where employment dropped by 7,500, or 5.0%.
Employment remains suppressed in all tourism industries compared to the last month prior to the pandemic hitting Canada (February 2020). Employment losses are particularly large in the travel services industry, where employment is down by over 60% (see Figure 4). While some industries gained employment during the summer months, travel services has seen three months in a row of employment losses.
Controlling for seasonal variation by looking at the same month in past years, employment remains substantially suppressed in all tourism industries. Overall, tourism employment is down 17.0% compared to 2019, while employment across the entire economy is 0.3% higher than in October 2019. The industry groups with the greatest loss of employment are travel services and accommodations. Employment levels are down the least (-8.7%) in the recreation and entertainment industry. All industry groups except for travel services have more employed workers than they did at this time in 2020 (see Figure 5).
Hours of Work
While employment dropped by 2.2% in October, the total number of hours worked by tourism employees fell 7.4%, reflecting the decreasing number of full-time workers and the increase in part-time workers. However, the good news is that compared to October 2020, total hours worked is up 10.4%.
Another change from past months is that employment is now less suppressed than hours of work compared to the same month in 2019. For most of the pandemic, the number of hours worked has fallen further than employment levels have. As of October, only in the accommodations and travel services industries do hours worked continue to be lower than employment. Despite that change, full-time employment is still reduced to a greater degree than part-time employment. As of October, full-time tourism employment was down 21.3% compared to 2019, while part-time employment was down 10.1%.
Provincial Tourism Employment
Provincially, tourism employment declined in every province except for Saskatchewan and British Columbia—although employment gains in those two provinces were small. Particularly large drops were seen in the Atlantic Provinces—with the exception of Nova Scotia—where seasonal changes in employment tend to be large.
Compared to 2019, tourism employment was lower in every province during the month of October. The province of Manitoba had been close to pre-pandemic employment levels in September, being down only 0.4% compared to September 2019. As of October, however, tourism employment is now down 8.2% compared to October 2019. Tourism employment was notably lower in Newfoundland and Labrador (-27.9%) and Quebec (-25.0%).
In October, four provinces had lower levels of tourism employment than in 2020: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and British Columbia.
While job vacancy data is not as timely as employment data, it does clearly show that some segments of our industry were struggling to find workers this summer. In August, job vacancies within the accommodation and food services sector surged to 156,755. The vacancy rate in that sector exceeded its June high to reach an unprecedented 12.3%. Over 12% of positions within the sector were vacant. Vacancies also jumped significantly in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, increasing by 63.4%, from 10,940 in July to 17,875 in August. The vacancy rate in that sector was 6.3% (see Figure 10). Across all sectors of the Canadian economy, vacancies rose by 8.2% to 871,555.
Employment by Sector
As of October, eight sectors of the economy have higher employment than two years ago, while eight have lower employment. Employment is notably down in accommodation and food services; agriculture; and other services. Employment is notably higher in professional, scientific and technical services; finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; and educational services (see Figure 11).
In terms of total employment losses and gains, those sectors that have gained employment since October 2019 have added 553,800 jobs. The sectors that have lost employment have 494,600 fewer workers than they did two years ago (see Figure 12).
Total Unemployed and Unemployment Rate
Unemployment across the entire economy fell for the second month in a row in October.
The number of unemployed workers declined by 68,100 between September and October, dropping the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate to 6.0%. Although unemployment dropped by 68,100, seasonally unadjusted employment only increased by 9,700. Thus, the drop in the number of unemployed workers reflects people dropping out of the labour market rather than finding jobs. This occurred in September as well, although it was expected during that month due to student workers returning to school.
Despite the drop, the number of unemployed workers does remain elevated. There were 208,000 more unemployed individuals in October 2021 than there were in October 2019.
Not in the Labour Force – Not Employed, Not Seeking Work
In October, the number of individuals who are not in the labour force (not employed or actively seeking work) increased by 47,000. The increase falls within the usual seasonal pattern for October (see Figure 14).
The number of individuals not in the labour force is higher than two years ago, up by 320,500. Almost all of this increase is among individuals over the age of 65, with a small exception among youth. In all other age categories, the number of individuals not in the labour force is lower than it was in October 2019 (see Figure 15).
The number of people who wanted to work but were not in the labour force declined for the sixth month in row, falling from 415,000 in September to 381,900 in October. The number of people in this category is only slightly elevated from October 2019, up 3.6% (see Figure 16).
Labour Force Trends to Watch
There were no major shifts in the labour market in October. The change in tourism employment was within expected seasonal ranges. Overall, employment across the entire economy was essentially unchanged. Still, unemployment continues to decline, and the number of people who are below the age of 65 and not participating in the labour force is lower than it was two years ago. As unemployment continues to decline, the labour market will get tighter, making is harder to restaff in industries where employment remains suppressed.
Although employment has recovered to pre-pandemic levels across the entire economy, the same is not true for many sectors—particularly tourism. Some sectors have gained employees at the expense of others. However, the labour force has also grown relative to pre-pandemic times. Seasonally adjusted data shows the total labour force declined slightly in October, but it is still larger than it was in October 2019 or February 2020. With travel restrictions around the world starting to lift, labour force growth is likely to increase over the coming months as new permanent residents arrive in Canada.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) ended on October 23rd, as did the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The newly announced Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program will keep wage subsidies in place for a smaller number of businesses. The effect of these changes remains to be seen. The cancellation of the CRB could push more people to become active in the labour market. Ending CEWS could result in some businesses letting workers go. Neither of these potential trends is certain, and they will not start to be seen until November or December at the earliest.
Tackling the labour challenges impacting Canada’s tourism sector will involve many strategies. Better utilization of tailored resources and supports, along with adapting business models and improving HR practices will be essential, but not enough. Addressing structural constraints requires an advocacy focus to better align public policy to meet both short-term and long-term labour needs in tourism.
Learn more at the upcoming Tourism Congress, as Huw Williams, President, Impact Public Affairs, facilitates the National Policy Forum: Priorities for Tackling Labour Challenges in Tourism. Taking place November 30 at the Westin Ottawa, this session aims to provide delegates the opportunity to help shape the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s advocacy priorities over the coming year to address chronic and systemic labour challenges.
Objectives will be outlined, the role of advocacy—including the key players—will be reviewed, and the issue will be presented and then discussed by an expert panel representing different sectors of the industry. And, lastly, a draft advocacy strategy framework will be presented for deliberation and reaction from delegates.
Please note: this Propel info session is for BC-based employers. A national session will take place on December 9.
Need help bringing on new staff? Hiring students is a great way to build your team for short-term needs and to build a talent pipeline for the long term! And now you can access a wage subsidy of up to $7,500 through Propel, a brand new Student Work Placement Program (SWPP)!
Aimed squarely at the tourism and hospitality sector, Propel is a new initiative to help the hardest-hit sector recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.
Learn more about how your organization can take advantage of this wage subsidy program and how to bring on students from hospitality and tourism management, culinary arts, and other programs from across the province at this info session on November 15, 2021, at 2:00 PM Pacific.
Brought to you by the Talent MATCH Program, a collaboration between go2HR, the BC Museums Association, the Alliance for Arts + Culture, and the Association for Co-operative Education & Work Integrated Learning, this info session will feature Rachel George and Joe Baker from Propel, who will explain how the program works and how to apply.
This info session is free, but you must register for it here.
Want more information on hiring students in British Columbia? Visit the Talent MATCH webpage or contact Project Manager Debby Reis at TalentMatch@acewilbc.ca.