The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) has released “Gateway to Growth: Travel & Tourism Labour Force Report,” a candid accounting of the human resource challenges facing Canada’s travel and tourism operations.
The report seeks to quantify the scope of labour and skills shortages while qualitatively dispelling many myths pertaining to the quality of opportunity and career trajectory in tourism’s numerous and diverse sectors.
Employing one in 10 Canadians – one third of whom are under 25 years old – travel and tourism is unrivalled in its economic importance to every region of the country. Unfortunately, labour shortages undermine Canada’s global competitiveness.
“Global tourism growth is fuelled by the pursuit of unique and memorable experiences. A destination’s competitive advantage is achieved through compelling marketing, easy access, quality products and excellent service,” said TICA president Rob Taylor. “Unlike customers who buy tangible products, travellers are looking for memories and experiences that require a quality of service that can only be delivered by an adequately staffed and properly trained work force.”
Lower birth rates and an aging population mean that while baby boomers are retiring and travelling more, there are fewer workers available to serve them. And while entry-level positions continue to be difficult to fill in some regions, skilled positions are also facing a challenge. According to research conducted by the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC), it is estimated that, by 2030, tourism labour shortages could surpass a quarter of a million jobs, costing the sector $31.4 billion in foregone revenues and over $4 billion in taxes.
A long term solution to tourism labour shortages involves complex policy reforms across a number of areas. However, at present the regional and seasonal nature of the travel business requires temporary foreign workers (TFW) to fill immediate labour shortages. TIAC makes a number of long term policy recommendations in the report including: More training to attract and retain employees, especially youth; On the job training tax credits; Support for professional certification programs; Labour Mobility and Employment Insurance reform; and Immigration reforms.
In the short term, TIAC suggests the following adjustments to the TWF program:
- Create a Tourism Stream for the TFWP similar to the Agricultural Stream to reflect the seasonal and regional needs of the sector;
- Expand the CIC Group of Employers Pilot Project for a shared pool of TFWs without having to request individual new Labour Market Opinions or work permits;
- Travel and tourism is growing at a global annual rate of 5%, more than three times faster than in Canada. If Canada were to match the rest of the world we would see an additional $5 billion in revenue and generate 4500 new jobs.