Shortfall in Workers Hampers Canada's Ability to Reach Top Ten Destination Status

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is eager to have Canada return to the Top Ten most visited countries globally by the year 2025. It’s a laudable goal, and achievable, but not without a great deal of hard work—and an executable strategic approach to bringing more qualified workers into the tourism sector. Labour market modelling of expected demand by 2025 already depicts a labour supply shortfall of 8.3%; the additional tourism workforce needed if Canada reaches a top 10 ranking by 2025 is another 64,000 personnel.

The growth of available talent to support Canada’s Top Ten destination status will require a coordinated effort on the part of governments and businesses across the country. Tourism HR Canada has looked at multiple scenarios for reaching employment targets. Some tactics require the direct involvement of government and existing policies, others the collaboration of different tourism stakeholder groups.

Two strategies requiring a political commitment relate to increasing the number of immigrants entering Canada annually. If Canada’s intake of permanent residents for the years 2017 through 2025 increased to 1% of the Canadian population, this could fill 177,000 tourism jobs currently projected as labour shortfall. Any increase in permanent residents between 2017 and 2025 would help offset the labour shortfall poised to hinder the 2025 Top Ten destination target, and also add to the number of workers available to other industries projecting shortfalls over the next decade. Another strategy would be to increase the number of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) who become permanent residents. Research shows 31% of low-wage TFWs become permanent residents. Increasing that number to 36% would also assist the sector in reaching the 2025 target.

Tourism HR Canada will be publishing a report later this year that details additional strategies to attract a greater number of people to tourism careers—and retain them. An important finding was that people who have had a tourism job are much more positive about our sector than people who lack tourism work experience. Engaging these individuals to share their experiences can promote tourism as an employment option, boost career awareness, and increase how many people continue their career paths in tourism.

Look for future articles in Tourism Insider to feature the impact of improving perceptions of tourism careers, such as offering:      

  • Valuable work experience and the means to acquire in-demand transferable skills
  • A place where managers appreciate their employees
  • Advancement opportunities

There is no magic fix for the labour challenges Canada will face in regaining a Top Ten destination position, but there are solutions tourism stakeholders can build into a proactive and practical strategy to attract and retain a greater percentage of the available labour pool. It will require close collaboration and a shared vision for the future of the sector.