Month: February 2022

Tourism’s workforce issues did not begin with the pandemic, but COVID has heightened and amplified the problem. The labour shortage is here to stay, and adapting to new circumstances must involve multiple strategies. There is a need for better utilization of tailored resources and supports, along with adapting business models and improving HR/human capital practices. The reality is that the sector is facing greater competition for workers than it did before, and it’s expected to get worse.

To assist employers in moving forward, Tourism HR Canada has created a new, free resource, Now Hiring: A Guide to Help Employers Attract and Retain Workers in a Post-Pandemic Environment.

The tools in this guide are intended to help tourism businesses get started on the path to recovery, with both short-term and long-term strategies to attract, retain, and grow a skilled workforce. Now Hiring covers a range of essential HR practices, tips to implement them, and practical checklists and forms to help tackle key issues.

Click here to download a copy of Now Hiring

Pan-Canadian Tourism Workforce Recovery & Growth Task Force

Tourism, at its core, is a people business and one that relies on a skilled workforce to capitalize on its economic potential for Canada.

Re-opening tourism businesses and guiding their recovery requires an all-of-sector approach.

A workforce recovery strategy will require flexibility, coordination, and resources to ensure it is responsive to urgent demands and is economically and socially viable over the long term. Fundamentally, the aim must strive for a cohesive strategy to address systemic and structural issues, improve on the sector’s resilience, and strengthen its capacity as a key economic driver.

Led by Tourism HR Canada, a new Pan-Canadian Tourism Workforce Recovery & Growth Task Force has begun discussing the development a framework for recovery that addresses short-term and long-term systemic and structural issues. Topics include:

  • Seeking new approaches that create a reliable supply of qualified workers
  • Optimizing workforce productivity through targeted and sustained workforce development initiatives
  • Tackling barriers to employment in the sector through policy reform
  • Recommending ways to improve human resource management practices and supports to enable employers better navigate new and emergent workforce issues
  • Advising on strategies to address reputational damage, to enable the industry to attract and retain workers more effectively

Minimally, the Task Force will explore six pillars as part of workforce recovery framework:

  1. Recovery programs and services for reskilling and upskilling
  2. Digitalization to enhance business resilience
  3. Comprehensive attraction and retention strategy
  4. Tools to help employers manage new HR demands
  5. Policy and advocacy efforts
  6. Continued workforce and labour market research to inform strategies

Watch for upcoming announcements on engagement opportunities. Expert advice and recommendations on how to help the tourism workforce recover and grow is needed from a broad range of stakeholders fully representative of the industry. Email taskforce@tourismhr.ca or subscribe to Tourism HR Insider to receive the latest news and calls for participation.

Click here to learn more about the Pan-Canadian Tourism Workforce Recovery & Growth Task Force.

The Government of Canada has announced that its Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) will soon be accepting applications, with the launch planned for March 3, 2022. This will be an opportunity for eligible small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), including tourism businesses, to access grants, expert digital advice, 0% interest loans, and work placements to help boost their e-commerce presence and digitize how they run their businesses.

The program will be delivered through two streams: CDAP Stream 1 will help SMEs take advantage of e-commerce opportunities, while Stream 2 will help businesses develop and implement digital adoption plans and leverage youth placements to help apply new digital tools.

Click here to download a one-page overview of the program or click here to visit the CDAP website.

Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey data is from the week of January 9 to 15, 2022. The surge of Omicron over this period led to increased business closures and a loss of 200,000 jobs across the economy (based on seasonally adjusted data; unadjusted data shows a decline of 484,900 jobs from December to January[1]).

Tourism jobs were most impacted, with declines largely driven by Ontario and Quebec. Youth (15 to 24 years old) and women 25 to 54 years old were most impacted by the forced closures—key demographics that make up the tourism workforce.

Though the tourism industry saw unexpected employment gains in November 2021 which held steady as we headed into the holiday season, the repercussions of rising COVID-19 case counts and public health measures driven by the Omicron variant in late December 2021 and early January 2022 were felt quite heavily on employment across the entire economy.

It is typical for seasonally unadjusted employment to drop in the winter months; however, this past month brought unprecedented declines.

Tourism employment decreased in January by 176,000 from the previous month; a 10.1% month-over-month decline. Total employment now sits at 1,567,300, down from 1,743,300 the month before.

It is also common for the seasonally unadjusted employment rate and employment across all industries to decline in January. As mentioned, the unemployment rate for all industries in Canada has also risen this past month—from 5.4% in December to 6.8% in January. For the Canadian economy as a whole, seasonally unadjusted employment declined by 484,900 in January 2022—this decrease marks the largest monthly decline since January 2021.

The employment decreases in both tourism and the broader economy were due to large decreases in part-time employment. Part-time employment in the tourism industry dropped by 122,600 (or 16.5%), while full-time employment declined by 53,400 (or 5.3%).

It is typical to see a drop in tourism employment between the months of December and January (Fig. 1). For example, between December 2016 and January 2017 there was a decline of 9,200; the next year saw a reduction of 22,300 in employment numbers, and a 4,600 drop in employment was recorded between December 2018 and January 2019. Again, increases in tourism employment are highly unusual for this month, but the previous two years have been extreme outliers which have been exacerbated by the economic impact of COVID-19 outbreaks and responsive social policies.

Figure 1

In January 2022, the unemployment rate in the tourism sector was 11.9%—more than double the previous month (December 2021), when the unemployment rate for tourism stood at 5.2%. A year-over-year comparison does provide important context, however, as the present rate of 11.9% is substantially lower than the 18.6% rate reported in January 2021 (Fig. 2).

All tourism industry groups reported lower unemployment rates than the same month last year.

Figure 2

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 2.7% in Manitoba to 18.9% in New Brunswick (Fig. 3). The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Alberta, were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Figure 3

When looking at January 2022 employment within the various tourism industry groups, the most significant decreases from the previous month were in the food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, and the accommodations industries (Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Year-over-year analysis shows that, when compared to the same month in 2021, there has been growth in accommodations and recreation and entertainment along with a slight uptick in transportation employment. Nevertheless, when compared to the 2019 benchmark, each sector has declined between 15% and 32% from January 2019 numbers (Fig. 5).

Figure 5

As we look to the coming months, it is important to recognize that from November to December 2021, Canada’s tourism industry was in recovery mode, with positive gains across key labour market indicators. Public health measures are changing in several provinces, and it is therefore possible that this previous employment momentum will re-emerge as restrictions are eased across the country.


[1] Seasonally adjusted data in a time series has been modified to eliminate the effect of seasonal and calendar influences such as peak seasons of economic activity and monthly holidays.  It allows for comparisons of economic conditions from period to period and sector to sector without variations that may reflect significant seasonal changes that typify industries like tourism. Unadjusted data in a time series is also referred to as a “raw” or “original” time series before seasonal adjustments. For further details, please visit this Statistics Canada webpage.

Enduring 24 months of the pandemic has led many tourism operators and workers to express feelings of despair, loneliness, and uncertainty. The collective and cumulative fatigue is evidence of a very tired workforce that needs a lot of support. The labour shortage is expected to be long-lasting—it may be a decade or more before the industry reaches pre-pandemic employment levels. Despite the ongoing uncertainties and current situation, the industry has demonstrated resilience and innovation, and there are increasing signs of optimism as restrictions are lifted.

FOCUSED ON WORKFORCE RECOVERY

Tourism, at its core, is a people business and one that relies on a skilled workforce to capitalize on its economic potential for Canada. Re-opening tourism businesses and guiding their recovery requires an all-of-sector approach. A workforce recovery strategy will require flexibility, coordination, and resources to ensure it is responsive to urgent demands and is economically and socially viable over the long term. Fundamentally, the aim must strive for a cohesive strategy to address systemic and structural issues, improve on the sector’s resilience, and strengthen its capacity as a key economic driver.

Tourism HR Canada is working with industry stakeholders from across Canada to address short-term and long-term workforce recovery issues, with an overall aim to grow the supply of workers and hold on to those we have while improving the quality of work.

Currently, Tourism HR Canada is focused on six areas as part of a comprehensive workforce recovery framework:

  1. Comprehensive attraction and retention strategy
  2. Tools to help employers manage new HR demands
  3. Recovery programs and services for reskilling and upskilling
  4. Digitalization strategy to enhance business resilience
  5. Supporting workforce policy and advocacy efforts
  6. Continued workforce/LMI research to inform strategies

A PLAN SHAPED BY YOUR NEEDS AND IDEAS

A comprehensive workforce recovery strategy can only be informed by a broad cross-section of stakeholders from across Canada. We need your help by providing recommendations and ideas and by implementing new tools and strategies to address the issues. Watch for further information and opportunities to engage, including participation in roundtables, hearing or contributing to expert presentations, and ability to supply written submissions. (Soon, we’ll be dedicating a special edition of the newsletter to this topic.)

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

A well-qualified workforce is a prerequisite for economic growth, and tourism is uniquely positioned to contribute to the national economic recovery. Demand for travel and tourism is expected to rebound with exponential growth potential. With a comprehensive, industry-led workforce recovery and growth plan, and the support of governments, tourism can emerge strengthened and more resilient.

Tourism Saskatchewan’s new Make Safe online course gives hospitality employees practical and effective tools to recognize, respond to, and reduce sexual harassment in the workplace. The Make Safe program was developed jointly by Tourism Saskatchewan and Tourism HR Canada, and is available nationally.

Make Safe shows frontline staff how to “See it. Say it. Stop it.” The course is presented in five online modules. Each takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Content identifies what constitutes sexual violence, how to mitigate it and how to take a zero-tolerance approach.

Enrolment is free until May 31. Click here to register for Make Safe, and use the discount code MAKESAFE2022 at checkout.

For more information, contact Kari Burgess at (306) 933-5913, kari.burgess@tourismsask.com.