Stay Informed: CTHRC Offers Cutting-Edge Research Results

Tourism in Canada offers unique experiences, interesting attractions, five-star accommodations, and superb amenities. Consisting of five industry groups (food and beverage services, transportation, accommodation, recreation and entertainment, and travel services), tourism is a large and dynamic contributor to the nation’s economy. In 2008, tourism spending in Canada reached $74.7 billion and the sector’s contribution to Canada’s GDP was 2.2%. However, without sufficient qualified employees to provide these services and operate these facilities, the sector will not be sustainable.

Consequently, the CTHRC produces an array of labour market information to provide stakeholders with pertinent information on the tourism sector’s labour force. Total Canadian tourism sector employment in 2008 was 1.8 million people, which represented 10% of all employment in the country. Understanding the characteristics of these existing workers, the projected supply of labour in Canada over the coming years, and ways to competitively attract and retain workers is necessary for the development and implementation of proactive tourism human resource policies.

Among the top challenges is engaging talented workers. Tourism employers face competition for labour, falling birth rates, misperceptions about tourism occupations, and the aging of the baby boomer population. The CTHRC and the Conference Board of Canada work together on labour supply-demand studies, which identify the extent of potential labour shortages in the tourism sector over the medium to long term and make suggestions to alleviate the severity of the predictions.

The most recent supply-demand report, The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector: Labour Shortages to Re-emerge as Economy Recovers,shows that due to decreasing demand for tourism goods and services and layoffs in other areas of the economy, the labour woes previously facing the sector have waned somewhat. However, as a sector that relies on young people, the challenges presented by an aging labour force will return as the economy recovers. Future growth and the need to provide a high level of service to attract visitors will continue to increase demand for tourism workers, potentially resulting in a cumulative shortage of over 95,000 full-year jobs by 2015, ballooning to almost 257,000 full-year jobs by 2025.

In order to deal strategically with these changing demographics, employers competing for labour need accurate and credible compensation information. The CTHRC’s study of Tourism Compensation Practices provides employers with detailed compensation, gratuities, and benefits information for more than thirty tourism occupations at various levels of geographic and industrial aggregation. Recognizing that non-cash elements such as training and development, career growth, organizational effectiveness, and a balanced and engaged lifestyle are important to the workforce, the study also provides information on human resource policies, salary administration practices, and current industry challenges.

Non-cash incentives such as training will be a key component of attracting skilled employees to the sector. Employers interested in quantifying the impact of staff training on their operations can access the Council’s free Return on Training Investment tool. The tool looks at six measures of employee performance: sales, upselling, staff turnover, customer satisfaction, employee competence, and cost savings. The results allow them to identify the value of dollars invested in training related to the costs of the training activities and the benefits achieved in increased sales, guest satisfaction, and productivity.

The most recent tool to support stakeholders in building a skilled workforce is Workplace Matters, an online forum to gather and share information related to tourism human resource practices. The panel will be managed by Ipsos, a company with proven experience in building and maintaining online panels. Ipsos guarantees the privacy and confidentiality of those taking part. Panel members will be sent short surveys on various topics on a monthly basis, and receive newsletters with samples of the research results and related workplace insights and information. The opinions and expertise provided by members will help the Council identify and respond to legislative, operational, and occupational issues.

For more information on any these resources, please visit