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Leading Through Learning

By Joe Baker, Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors

Many of us had our eyes on Budget 2024, released by our Federal Government mid-April of this year. There are so many reasons for hope and still so many adversities to overcome as a country in order to build productivity and prosperity for all. 

Canada’s tourism sector continues to astonish, as several of our national tourism promotion and advocacy organizations celebrate the tourism spend in 2023, which finally surpassed the banner year that was 2019.

But of course this is not the full story. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, tourism businesses continue to struggle with finding and keeping the top talent needed to fuel their operations. And at the same time, many of Canada’s institutes of higher learning continue to struggle with declining enrollments in tourism-related programming—both domestically and internationally.

There is good news out there worth putting under the spotlight. Propel, Tourism HR Canada’s Student Work Placement Program, continues to provide opportunities for industry employers to access wage subsidies used to pay post-secondary students during meaningful work-integrated learning experiences.

This initiative becomes so important as we do our best both to support tourism employers with wage subsidies and access to talent and to leverage the promise of paid work-integrated learning experiences to attract potential post-secondary students into programs serving our sector.

Applications are now open for wage subsidies for the 2024-25 fiscal year, including plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the high demand for student talent during the peak summer season.

As we look to the future, Employment and Social Development Canada provides more hope and resources for the continuation of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program across many sectors.

Below is an excerpt from Budget 2024. Worth a quick read to learn more about the impact of the Student Work Placement Program:

Work-integrated learning opportunities, such as co-ops and internships, are a proven way for post-secondary students to gain valuable skills and get a foot in the door of their future career. For businesses, the government’s work-integrated learning programs help them identify and recruit skilled and trained individuals, addressing a significant challenge for employers: finding the right talent. That’s why the government supports practical, hands-on learning and connections with employers through the Student Work Placement Program. The program has already created over 192,000 work opportunities for post-secondary students since 2017-18. These work experience opportunities help young Canadians gain the skills, education, and real-life experience necessary to get good-paying jobs in important and growing fields. To create more work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students, Budget 2024 proposes to provide $207.6 million in 2025-26, to Employment and Social Development Canada for the Student Work Placement Program.

Here’s hoping we as Canada’s tourism sector can demonstrate to our federal government that we will take full advantage of a resource like Propel as we reinvent the value proposition of careers in tourism, beginning with a commitment to paid, meaningful work-integrated learning experiences for those who have chosen to study in or work in our field during their post-secondary studies. 

Learn more about the Propel program: sign up for the next webinar, May 23 at 1:00 PM Eastern.

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 consultancy focused on thought leadership, human capital, and strategy. Joe is also Dean at Okanagan College School of Business and serves on the board of directors at Tourism HR Canada.

Joe can be found everywhere @thejoebaker.

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