Workforce Recovery

Led nationally by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), and with many complementary regional and local initiatives, Tourism Week is “an annual invitation for all tourism partners to come together to champion and promote Canada’s destinations, tourism businesses, and employees—from coast to coast to coast.”

This year’s theme, Travel now. For work, life, and play!, emphasizes that tourism in Canada is open for business and ready to safely re-welcome travellers from all over the world, whether for pleasure or business.

Tourism could not exist without the welcoming, skilled professionals who provide the human element to a destination. The people who work in tourism bring stories, cultures, and traditions that make our destinations unique and vibrant. Canada is fortunate to have a global reputation for warmth, diversity, and inclusion that makes it a destination of choice for millions of travellers each year. From the front-of-house positions to the back-office staff, there are over 1.9 million people who ensure we deliver on our brand and thoughtfully share our vast array of sights and experiences.

Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate each and every one of these individuals, who have been rocked by two years of uncertainty. Those that learned new skills so businesses could pivot. Those that helped patrons and colleagues stay safe and healthy. Those that upskilled while furloughed. Those that are returning to the sector after needing to shift workplaces. Those that had to transfer their skills to other jobs. Those that are coming into tourism for the very first time.

Let’s take pride in the incredible range of talents that the tourism workforce displays in so many ways, from the detail-oriented front desk agents to creative culinary teams to inspiring heritage interpreters to knowledgeable visitor centre staff to safety-conscious coach drivers, and hundreds of roles beyond these.

Let’s also shine a light on the many individuals whose work plays a role on a traveller’s journey, even if they never meet: the destination marketers, the HR managers, the content creators, the maintenance crews, the IT specialists, the training consultants, the event coordinators, the operations teams, and all the people working behind the scenes to provide a smooth, memorable trip.

As we watch the tourism workforce continue to recover and grow, our ongoing sector-wide, pan-Canadian collaboration to support a skilled workforce and plan smart, sustainable labour strategies will be instrumental in the industry’s success. Tourism’s flexibility in its mix of full-time, permanent to part-time, seasonal work is a strength and we must build up our reputation as a destination for meaningful (and fun!) employment.

Be the first to know about new workforce recovery and career awareness initiatives—subscribe to Tourism HR Insider

Click here to access TIAC’s Tourism Week website and resources

Feed into the Government of Canada’s new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy

The pandemic has caused significant disruption to the tourism labour market, much greater than the economy overall. While the latest Labour Force Survey shows the workforce is recovering, there is a long way to go: tourism remains over 200,000 workers below the same month in 2019.

In many ways the issues we have today are not new, but the awareness of the challenges and the severity of the issues have been heightened. Many are looking for answers, particularly as the summer tourism season gears up.

Solving the problem is about looking at things differently—it’s a new context, and we’re not talking about returning to 2019. This re-think is about making bold choices and focusing on reform that will help the sector address long-standing structural and systemic issues—changes to public supports and perceptions of the sector, with investments that will help the sector recover, grow, and be more resilient.

For employers, a thorough review of HR policies and practices should be a priority. To help, Tourism HR Canada offers the free “Now Hiring” guide, which covers a range of essential HR practices, tips to implement them, and practical checklists and forms to help tackle key issues.

Covered in the guide is information on how to:

  1. Build a blended workforce
  2. Overhaul your recruitment strategies
  3. Diversify your workforce
  4. Invest in digitalization to build up your workforce
  5. Rethink and rework work arrangements
  6. Work on retention strategies
  7. Pay attention to your HR/employer brand
  8. Be a centre of meaningful learning
  9. Optimize your current workforce
  10. Get good at & prioritize partnerships
  11. Use unconventional, flexible work schedules
  12. Increase your HR IQ
  13. Emphasize the total compensation package

With the labour shortage impacting numerous sectors across Canada—and internationally—the competition for workers is fierce. Businesses who are committed to real change will be able to establish themselves as employers of choice and lead the way in securing tourism’s reputation as a destination for employment.

Access Now Hiring here

Tourism HR Canada met with its network of provincial and territorial human resource organizations (HROs) in Ottawa last week to discuss work plans associated with training and assessment resources that constitute the Emerit Tourism Training brand.

The first in-person meeting with this network in over two years, the group dove in to the opportunity to connect and discuss not only the key projects Tourism HR Canada will be launching over the next three years, but also the plans of all participating organizations to identify opportunities for collaboration and avoid duplication of effort where possible.

Attendees included:

  • Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association
  • Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en tourisme
  • go2HR
  • Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ontario Tourism Education Corporation
  • Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité
  • Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council
  • Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick
  • Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island
  • Tourism Saskatchewan
  • Travel Nunavut
  • Yukon Tourism Education Council

(Manitoba Tourism Education Council, Hospitality Saskatchewan, and the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta are also members of this network, but were unable to attend the meeting.)

Each participating HRO presented their priorities over the next 18 months, including details on initiatives with some overlap with the national work plan, opening up a dialogue on how best to collaborate and leverage the various initiatives to serve the needs of the tourism sector writ large.

Tourism HR Canada staff presented on specific national-level projects, then hosted breakout sessions to gather additional intelligence and discuss next steps with respect to how best to document all initiatives, align efforts, and identify specific initiatives where collaboration or joint work plans can begin.

While discussions covered many HR-related priorities, the focus was on the development of new Emerit resources that included:

  • Developing and testing a new micro-credentialling model
  • Updating eLearning and micro-learning tools
  • Leveraging the new national competency library (Workforce Management Engine)
  • Updating Professional Certification credentials
  • Discussing a new technology platform to host new and existing tools

“The meeting was not only of strategic importance, it was an energizing experience to be amongst colleagues all focused on how best to provide support (programming and resources) for the industry that we are all passionate about. We believe tourism to be a place for people to find job and career satisfaction and are committed to building back such an important component of Canada’s economy,” stated Tourism HR Canada V.P. of Workforce Development Jon Kiely.

The HRO partners are an integral part of the broader Working Groups network established to assist Tourism HR Canada with this new work, provide input into what is developed, and assist with the piloting and testing of the resources created. As work progresses, there will be numerous touchpoints to engage these key stakeholders to ensure Tourism HR Canada is developing what is of most critical importance to employers, employees, job seekers, and the education community. This feedback will also inform the work of the Tourism Workforce Recovery & Growth Task Force as it develops a framework for recovery that addresses short-term and long-term systemic and structural issues.

“I appreciate the opportunity to meet colleagues from across Canada and learn about their work,” said Tracy Breher, Tourism Saskatchewan’s Executive Director of Destination and Workforce Development. “Some excellent collaborative opportunities emerged, both with Tourism HR Canada programs and other HROs. These partnerships will benefit Saskatchewan’s tourism sector on many levels. Participation in national campaigns increases the effectiveness of messages and the value of our investment. I am excited about the work to come and the strategic collaboration that will advance our collective goals of a stronger, skilled workforce.”

We invite you to look for project updates and other exciting news from our collective work plans in future editions of Tourism HR Insider.

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.

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.

The tourism industry is facing an unprecedented shortfall of workers and major structural challenges impacting its workforce. The labour shortage is expected to be long-lasting—it may be a decade or more before the industry reaches pre-pandemic employment levels.

In response, Tourism HR Canada has initiated a three-year project funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to tackle Canada’s tourism workforce recovery and to restart tourism by securing a skilled, diverse, and resilient workforce.

We are calling on you—tourism industry leaders, business owners, workers, educators, and students—to assist in providing information, ideas, and advice for this workforce recovery project through several new Tourism Workforce Recovery Working Groups.

Beyond dealing with the immediate crisis, Tourism HR Canada wants to prepare our industry for the future. As a progressive stakeholder in the tourism sector, this is an opportunity to lend your expertise, opinions, and support to an integral initiative to expedite recovery and build a more resilient industry. Furthermore, this project aims to align activities and outcomes to meet some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

What Is the Aim of the Tourism Workforce Recovery Working Groups?

Led by Tourism HR Canada, the Tourism Workforce Recovery Working Groups’ overall aim is to support the project team by providing recommendations to align the project with the realities experienced by the sector and by sharing a wide range of ideas to ensure the representation of diverse tourism stakeholders from across Canada.

How Will Working Group Members Contribute?

We are striking these strategic working groups to assist us with several facets of the work being conducted over the next three years. We’re seeking participants who can provide insights and advice on the resources we will be developing—this could include guiding the direction of the resources, pilot-testing them once developed, and validating them for use across Canada.

Specifically, we are seeking Working Group members for the following initiatives:

  • eLearning and microlearning courses for entry-to-practice and other core skill-specific learning to better prepare the workforce as the industry emerges from the impact of the pandemic and looks to once again be one of the fastest growing industries (as it was pre-COVID). These resources will be part of our Emerit product offering as we focus on building and updating products to better serve the sector’s labour needs.
  • A new micro-credentialling model and related resources (training and assessment) for high-demand skills areas that further promote improved diversity, inclusion, and anti-oppressive practices and for skills areas that have high transferability/marketability in the labour market. This focus on retooling skills is in direct response to the pandemic, with the aim of accelerating the recovery of the tourism workforce.
  • Development/update of four Emerit Professional Certification programs for management and executive roles.
  • Suite of new online, customizable workforce management tools for employers and intermediaries (e.g., career development practitioners, educators) to foster stronger attachments to the workforce for both job seekers and workers.
  • Enhancements and new competencies for the Emerit Workforce Management Engine (WME), an online platform that enables users to access, and use, the tourism competency framework (developed as the Future Skills Framework). It provides National Occupational Standards validated by industry, and users can build their own job descriptions and skills checklists to aid their work and identify skills gaps.
  • A secure, stable, and adaptive learning management infrastructure to support post-pandemic priorities and enable the organization to adapt, evolve, and execute a digital strategy to help businesses address essential workforce needs.

What Commitment Is Required?

Involvement in any Tourism Workforce Recovery Working Group is voluntary and flexible. Activities may include pilot-testing learning tools, ratifying or reviewing provided information, and attendance in working sessions/meetings throughout the three-year project.

Learn More

For more information on this new initiative or to get involved in one or more of the Tourism Workforce Recovery Working Groups, please contact dmaxwell@tourismhr.ca by February 18, 2022. The Terms of Reference with further details will be provided. Working Group members will be invited to join based on their personal knowledge, breadth of experience, and capability to add to the dialogue at meetings.


COMING SOON: A Pan-Canadian Tourism Workforce Recovery & Growth Task Force will also be formed in the coming weeks. This group will support the efforts of the Tourism Workforce Recovery Working Groups by providing advice and information to address short-term and long-term systemic and structural issues facing the tourism sector. Be sure to subscribe to Tourism HR Insider for updates.