Labour crunch a challenge

Tourism job growth is anticipated but there could be labour shortages as early as 2014.

Regional studies of labour demand and supply by go2hr, the B.C. tourism industry’s human resource association, indicate that 12,334 job openings are expected in the Thompson-Okanagan region by 2020, but the region could face labour shortages as early as 2014.

“The Thompson Okanagan faces specific pressures within our industry,” said Arlene Keis, go2hr chief executive officer.

“The region has one of the most severe levels of seasonality in the province, which prevents many tourism employers from being able to retain workers on a permanent basis.”

The average annual growth for the region will be 1.6 per cent, on par with the provincial rate for the tourism industry. By 2020, the region is expected to face labour shortages of more than 1,600, which accounts for 12 per cent of the province’s anticipated labour shortages.  The food and beverage and accommodation sectors will be the hardest hit.

Tourism businesses and destination management and marketing organizations are being encouraged to make labour recruitment, retention and training a priority.

Last fall, go2hr launched the B.C. Tourism Labour Market Strategy (TLMS) to help address critical labour needs across the province’s six tourism regions.

The five industry groups that were selected for study within the tourism sector include: transportation, accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment services, and travel services.

Further research was undertaken this year to better understand each region’s unique needs.

Through the TLMS, go2hr is working with industry, government and other stakeholders to take strong, proactive steps to leverage tourism’s increasing economic importance and address impending labour shortages.

The strategy identifies opportunities to:

n Develop career awareness and recruitment campaigns that will highlight job opportunities in an exciting and diverse industry.

n Tap into under-represented talent pools such older workers, aboriginal people, new immigrants, and persons with disabilities.

n Extend recruitment reach nationally and internationally.

n Help industry operators stay current with best practices in human resources in order to improve staff retention.

n Address the need for accessible and affordable training options in remote and rural areas of the province.

To help the tourism industry align workforce, training and education strategies, go2hr is presenting at industry gatherings, hosting meetings and workshops and providing up to date information to destination management organizations to pass onto their members and stakeholders. go2hr also offers a comprehensive website that includes a free tourism niche job board and multiple informational resources.

The regional labour studies are available for download at


Vernon Morning Star