TIAC takes aim at overcoming the labour shortage

New recruitment and data tools, supportive government policy and enhanced collaboration can help mitigate – and even solve – some of the systemic and pervasive issues limiting tourism workforce growth.

Speaking at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s (TIAC’s) 2023 Tourism Congress in Ottawa last week, Tourism HR Canada president and CEO Philip Modor outlined the complex current state of the tourism workforce.  Tourism cannot return to pre-COVID hiring and retention practices with any hope of success. Fortunately, new approaches are being developed that better match today’s environment.

Perhaps the most important take away from the presentation was that while there is still a lot of work to be done, the tourism industry has made substantive progress in identifying what the issues are and what to do about them.

New research provided some astonishing analysis of where the problems lie.  Of the 880,000 people who left tourism because of COVID travel and hospitality restrictions, only 10% have returned. The largest loss was at the management/executive level – and most of those people are not expected back.  As jobs evolve and change, there is a growing skills mismatch as well, with 40% of workers not having the right skills for the job.

At the same time, many of the tools that were used successfully for tourism recruitment in the past are no longer effective.  As well, new factors, over which tourism has little or no control, like housing affordability or mobility have become more urgent.

Fortunately, tourism is adapting.  Government support has allowed the industry to refresh and update a number of HR programs. These include Discover Tourism, an upbeat and user-friendly recruitment tool, the emerit certification program and Propel, a student wage subsidy program.  Academic tourism programs available in secondary and postsecondary schools are being refresh and updated as well.

Finally, cooperation and collaboration at all levels is increasing.  Strong government buy-in with appropriate policies and programs will be key to success.  Good research will continue to serve a vital role to inform the advocacy and marketing that will drive recruitment and retention for the future.

Story by Debra Ward

Photo by Greg Ohman