Future Skills

The COVID pandemic has accelerated the impact of digitalization on tourism, and significant changes to business models and operational needs have triggered major workforce shifts.

COVID has demonstrated the need for digitalization to help businesses be more resilient and able to respond to disruptive events such as catastrophic weather (e.g., hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes), bear markets, or pandemics.

The entire tourism experience has had to transform. Fundamental changes to how we interact and heightened requirements for safety and health measures mean that nearly every tourism product or service that involves human interaction has had to change. Since tourism is a high-contact industry, the nature of work and workplaces is undergoing rapid transformation. This impacts the types of skills or workers needed and involves increased application of technology to facilitate new protocols. And so, the big question is: what is the impact on jobs?

Early Adopter

The use of the technology is not new to the sector. The industry was an early adopter of technology to augment, automate, and improve services. Increased digitalization helps tourism businesses transform business models, scale services, and enter new markets. Investments in technology have resulted in increased market share, reduced costs, improved efficiencies, and reduced waste. Technology is used to facilitate improved and alternate means for customer engagement, such as the use of e-marketing or automated and touchless services. Businesses rely on technology to analyze ever-complex market data to identify new and emerging visitor markets. Increasingly, tourism businesses recognize that investing in the use of the technology is a necessity and will enable them to be more responsive to market fluctuations, consumer demands, changes in regulations, and business disruptions—ultimately: to be more resilient.

Historically, tourism’s adoption of technology was a response to digital travel trends and changing consumer demands. This chart provides a glimpse at the tourism experience—a basic illustration of the visitor journey along the value chain—and the types of digital interactions that guide the journey and help define the experience.

Examples of the Digital Experience and Business Technology Applications

Today, the adoption of technology and increased move to digitalization is out of necessity. Tourism businesses require investments in technology to deliver on visitor experiences, and these investments are tied to their workers. COVID-19 is one example that has accelerated labour market transitions, where automation and many other factors have caused significant workforce changes and disrupted business practices.

Job Polarization

Adapting to a post-COVID business environment will require significant investments in the workforce. There are concerns about jobs at risk of automation; these often involve lower-educated workers performing tasks that require minimal skills. At the same time, the acceleration of digitalization is creating new opportunities and demands for workers with new or different skills.

The automation and digitalization of work and business practices will eliminate some jobs while creating others. This ‘job polarization’ is directly linked to business transformations intended to help make them more resilient to shocks or disruptions.

Identifying New Skills

Digitalization is a direct response to social, political, economic, and natural factors. COVID amplified and accelerated the labour market transformations that were already underway, due to factors such as globalization, increased focus on ecological practices, changing demographics, urbanization, and migration. The structural changes to business models are necessary to help businesses survive and cope with the changes. Skills demands are shifting because of these changes.

To illustrate the impact on jobs and skills, let’s look at some of the prevailing/new skills identified by Tourism HR Canada as being part of COVID recovery and improved structural changes to business models that will enable them to be more resilient and globally competitive. Each of these is dependent on investments in technology or the digitalization of functions.

Business innovation, e.g., workers with skills to:

  • Develop and manage virtual services and virtual reality experiences (e.g., conferences, guided tours, hotel bookings)
  • Innovate and implement product distribution to mitigate risks (e.g., food services, sales of craftworks)

Management of new business technology functions, with skilled staff to:

  • Develop and conduct digital marketing strategies, including analytics
  • Produce marketing content and respond to ongoing digital presence
  • Manage digital products

Increased complexity and scope of financial management skills, for functions such as:

  • Managing cashflow
  • Seeking new revenue streams
  • Procurement and supplier management (e.g., management of inventory systems, improving purchasing systems)

Community engagement and visitor-relations activities, such as skills and capacity to:

  • Lead or contribute to community-led labour market action plans
  • Improve on stakeholder/consumer engagement strategies

Business resilience, including workers with skills to:

  • Research and develop new and ever-changing markets
  • Crisis management and PR activities

Transforming human capital management practices will involve new models that include mixed workforces (permanent/anchor teams + casual/freelancers + shared workers). Skills are needed to:

  • Transform HR practices and protocols and to respond and adapt to rapid changing regulations and labour law
  • Work with ‘people analytics’
  • Develop engagement strategies, measures, and supports
  • Work with increasingly diverse populations
  • Facilitate needs around mental health and other personal interests

Environmental and sustainable practices require workers with abilities to:

  • Analyze business practices and identify ways in which the business is able to reduce reliance on ‘the grid’ or improve on its ecological footprint
  • Analyze new regulations and translate the practices into operational compliance/business practices
  • Conduct consumer research and define products or services that respond to consumer demands
  • Tap into government incentivized programs/funding

Redefining the Tourism Workplace

So, what does all this mean in terms of jobs? Some workers will be more affected than others. Jobs will be redefined by the skills required, and by new ways of working (e.g., teleworking, use of digital tools). Shifts in consumer preferences will drive business decisions and require reskilling and upskilling, with a focus on workers that are able to work in a range of contexts (i.e., transferable skills).

The shrinking labour force will cause employers to work differently and with mixed workforces and to rely on more community-led models to facilitate this demand. Technology will help augment and enhance the skills needed while improving customer services and enabling businesses to expand or tap into new markets.

Research shows that the sum gain is more jobs are created, and with this a very different makeup of the workforce.


For more on this topic, watch The Impact of Digitalization on the Tourism Workforce.

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada is gathering input from employers, Indigenous representatives, and students to inform the launch of our pan-Canadian Tourism Competency Framework.

We are currently developing a Future Skills Competency Framework tool to help businesses, job-seekers, and industry professionals in the tourism sector.

Feedback will help to ensure the Future Skills Competency Framework will best meet the needs of potential users.

We are actively looking for employers, Indigenous tourism business representatives, as well as hospitality students nearing the end of their studies to join this important discussion.

Participants will learn more about this new tool, which will help streamline human resources functions and provide relevant labour market information. The sessions will give participants an introduction to the tool in its preliminary form, followed by a discussion.

Register using the links below:

Employers (English)
Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Time: 2:00 pm-3:30 pm Eastern Standard Time
REGISTER HERE

Students (English)
Date: Wednesday March 10, 2021
Time: 1:00 pm-2:30 pm Eastern Standard Time
REGISTER HERE

Indigenous Organizations (English)
Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Time: 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Eastern Standard Time
REGISTER HERE

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada is extremely grateful for all the industry professionals who have shared insights into their occupations over the past few months, enabling us to build new occupational standards using the Future Skills Framework. The framework and these standards will help Canada’s tourism sector align the current and future skills of individuals in the labour market with the changing nature of work across tourism’s industries.

For a number of sessions over the coming month, we invite anyone with experience in the following occupations to join us to set new national standards:

  • Reservation Sales Agent: Thursday, January 21st
  • Food Counter Attendant: Tuesday, January 26th
  • Freshwater Fishing Guide/Hunting Guide: Thursday, January 28th

All sessions will take place from 1:00 PM – 3.30 PM EST on Zoom.

Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are interested, please send your RSVP to info@tourismhr.ca as soon as possible.

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada has now held over 50 sessions with industry professionals from across the country to review individual skills—or competencies—required across tourism, as part of the Future Skills Framework project.

We now have a fully validated framework, marking an important milestone in the project.

These individual competencies will be the ‘building blocks’ for a wide variety of occupational charts: a comprehensive set of skills that define a particular occupation. These charts will form the backbone of new National Occupational Standards, upon which all our Emerit certification and training is based.

We are now inviting industry professionals across a wide range of occupations to join us in reviewing these occupational charts on Zoom from 1:00 PM to 3.30 PM Eastern Time.

Please RSVP to info@tourismhr.ca if you have experience in the following occupations and want to join us on the listed date:

  • Dec 4: Tourism Visitor Information Counsellor
  • Dec 8: Housekeeping Room Attendant & Director of Housekeeping
  • Dec 10: Kitchen Helper, Line Cook, Food Counter Attendant
  • Dec 17: Food and Beverage Manager

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If you know of others who would like to be involved in this key phase of the project, please share this article with them.

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada has now held over 50 sessions with industry professionals from across the country to review individual skills—or competencies—required across tourism, as part of the Future Skills Framework project.

We now have a fully validated framework, marking an important milestone in the project.

These individual competencies will be the ‘building blocks’ for a wide variety of occupational charts: a comprehensive set of skills that define a particular occupation. These charts will form the backbone of new National Occupational Standards, upon which all our Emerit certification and training is based.

We are now inviting industry professionals across a wide range of occupations to join us in reviewing these occupational charts on Zoom from 1:00 PM to 3.30 PM Eastern Time.

Please RSVP to info@tourismhr.ca if you have experience in the following occupations and want to join us on the listed date:

  • Nov 23: Tour Guide & Tour Director
  • Nov 25: Front Desk Agent
  • Dec 4: Tourism Visitor Information Counsellor
  • Dec 8: Housekeeping Room Attendant & Director of Housekeeping
  • Dec 10: Kitchen Helper, Line Cook, Food Counter Attendant
  • Dec 17: Food and Beverage Manager

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If you know of others who would like to be involved in this key phase of the project, please share this article with them.

 

Future Skills Framework LogoCan you help us complete the validation of our new pan-Canadian tourism standards?

Tourism HR Canada has worked with experts from across Canada over the past two years to build the Future Skills Framework: a comprehensive set of competencies for our sector.

A few sections of the framework remain and we’re seeking participants to provide insights at this important stage. 

If you have recent experience in any of the topics below, and can join us on Zoom on the relevant date(s) between 1pm and 3pm Eastern Time, please contact info@tourismhr.ca for more information.

Business Management: October 22nd

Guided Hunting: October 27th

Guided Fishing: October 29th

Participating in a session offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the standard for your field, while working together with fellow industry professionals from across Canada. We hope you can join us to guide tourism’s future!

Future Skills Framework LogoCan you help us complete the validation of our new pan-Canadian tourism standards?

Tourism HR Canada has worked with experts from across Canada over the past two years to build the Future Skills Framework: a comprehensive set of competencies for our sector.

We now have just a few sections of the framework left and would love for you to provide your insights at this important stage.

If you have recent experience in any of the topics below, and can join us on Zoom on the relevant date(s) between 1pm and 3pm Eastern Time, please contact info@tourismhr.ca for more information.

Housekeeping: October 14th, 16th, and 20th

Sustainability: October 21st

Business Management: October 22nd

Guided Hunting: October 27th

Guided Fishing: October 29th

Participating in a session offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the standard for your field, while working together with fellow industry professionals from across Canada. We hope you can join us to guide tourism’s future!

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada is continuing to work with experts from across Canada to build the Future Skills Framework: a comprehensive set of competencies for our sector. To make sure these reflect today’s tourism workplaces, we’ve held dozens of consultation sessions with professionals with a wide range of tourism-related experience.

We are currently looking for anyone from the tourism industry with recent cooking experience to join a set of upcoming online sessions, to be held in October.

Joining a session offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the standard for your field, while working together with fellow experts from across Canada.

If you would like to join, please contact info@tourismhr.ca for more information.

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada has continued building the Future Skills Framework, a federally funded three-year project compiling a comprehensive bank of the competencies required in tourism.

For a set of online sessions to be held from September 21 to October 1, we are looking for tourism professionals with recent experience in either adventure guiding or travel services to join us for one—or multiple—focus groups to help us set the standard for our industry.

Please get in touch with info@tourismhr.ca for more details—we look forward to working with you!

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada has continued building the Future Skills Framework, a federally funded three-year project compiling a comprehensive bank of the competencies required in tourism.

The completed framework will help minimize skills and labour mismatches in tourism and guide job seekers, educators, and governments as they identify current and emerging skills demands in tourism workplaces.

We’re inviting tourism professionals from across the country to review the skills that have been collected and provide insights on their accuracy and relevancy. Your involvement will help ensure the framework reflects the skills and competencies tourism employers are actively seeking.

To ensure the health and safety of participants, we’ve moved these feedback sessions online. Beginning mid-August, there will be multiple options per week to participate—we’re looking for everyone from front desk agents to food and beverage servers, travel agents to tour guides, and cooks to cashiers.

If you are a tourism professional—no matter what industry or level—who would like to share your experience and be part of future-proofing the our sector, you can sign up for one of these sessions by completing this form.