230,000 jobs in tourism sector could go unfilled by 2030

Natural resource-based economies already having difficulties: Report

About 230,000 jobs in the tourism sector could go unfilled by 2030 due to a lack of workers, according to a report from the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC).

Although the economic crisis of 2008-09 left the tourism sector in a state of labour surplus, like many industries, the tourism sector will be challenged in the coming years by a tightening labour force, found The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector: Shortages to Resurface as Labour Markets Tighten.

In 2010, more than 1.6 million full-year jobs were required to meet the demand for tourism goods and services. The projections for future spending suggest that, by 2030, demand for labour in the sector will grow to 2.1 million jobs, an increase of 33 per cent.

The future demand for tourism is great enough that there may not be enough workers to fill these jobs, said the report. This was the case in 2007 when 23,700 full-year jobs in the sector went unfilled because demand for labour exceeded the available supply of labour, said CTHRC.

Labour demand in the sector is expected to increase at 1.6 per cent per year from 2010 to 2014, while the supply of labour will increase by 1.2 per cent. As growth in demand outpaces growth in labour supply, the residual surplus will disappear and, in 2013, the sector will return to shortages equivalent to 3,700 full-year jobs.

Regions with a natural resource-based economy are already seeing increased demand and experiencing increasing difficulty finding workers. This year, the tourism sectors of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador are facing a labour shortage equal to 1,500 jobs. As a whole, the Canadian tourism sector will see increasingly severe shortages over the next 20 years.

With data broken down by industry, city, province and occupation, highlights of the report include:

• Spending on tourism goods and services in Canada could rise from $188 billion in 2010 to more than $293 billion in 2030.

• The food and beverage industry could see 136,000 job go unfilled by 2030.

• 8.3 per cent of potential jobs in the accommodation industry could go unfilled over the next 20 years.

• Shortages will be most acute in the Atlantic provinces.

Businesses can improve their labour supply by identifying underutilized labour pools such as mature workers, persons with disabilities and new immigrants, and implement policies to attract these potential employees, said CTHRC. The industry can also attract employees by improving the image of tourism jobs by showcasing the benefits of working in the sector and identifying and adjusting to the needs of workers from different demographic segments.

For example, tourism sector jobs could be made more attractive if more employers offered training, the opportunity for advancement and more than two weeks’ vacation. A 20 per cent increase in the number of 15 to 24 year olds who are offered these non-wage benefits by tourism employers could reduce the shortage by over 32,000 jobs, said the report.

Furthermore, a non-wage benefit survey conducted for the report showed the single most important factor in attracting and retaining young employees is providing them with the opportunity for advancement. When given this opportunity, young workers were 230 per cent more likely to remain with their current employer. Feedback from tourism businesses also suggests that changes to the temporary foreign worker and provincial nominee programs, and employment insurance reform could also improve the sector’s labour situation.

The report can be accessed at CTHRC.

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