BC tourism industry to create 101,000 new job openings by 2020

British Columbia’s tourism industry will be a leader in provincial job growth as businesses look to fill 101,000 new job openings by 2020, according to a study of labour demand and supply by go2, the BC tourism industry’s human resource association.

The Tourism Labour Market Strategy, released today by go2, sets out the plan to recruit, retain and train the workers needed to keep pace with the growth projected for the industry. Nearly half of the 101,000 openings will be new jobs created by the tourism industry across the province, adding 44,220 more jobs to the provincial workforce by 2020. The other approximately 57,000 openings are due to replacements (i.e. retirements).

“After several years of slow labour growth, the tourism industry is poised to expand,” said Arlene Keis, CEO of go2. “Labour shortages are already being felt in places like Northern BC and in the Rockies regions. By 2016, the crunch will be more acute throughout the province.”

More than 80 per cent of tourism’s new job openings are projected to come in Food and Beverage Services (43,410 openings), Recreation and Entertainment (20,530 openings) and the Accommodation sector (18,920 openings).

“Our government is committed to providing British Columbians with the skills training opportunities needed to fill the anticipated one million job openings in our province by 2020,” said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. “We are working closely with industry partners like go2 to make sure that we are focusing government investments where they will have the most impact – like training workers for careers in the tourism industry.”

A separate labour market study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada on behalf of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, which will be released later this week, validates the BC job growth projections.

The Tourism Labour Market Strategy identifies a number of ways that industry and the provincial government can align workforce, training and education strategies to ensure tourism businesses can find the skilled workers needed to keep their operations growing.

Some of the strategies include:

  • career awareness and recruitment campaigns in BC and abroad;
  • partnerships between summer and winter employers to explore exchange of seasonal or part-time workers;
  • tapping under-represented talent pools such as youth, Aboriginal People, new immigrants, older workers, and persons with disabilities;
  • providing industry-specific training programs in rural and remote areas;
  • continued improvements to policies and programs making it easier for skilled foreigners and youth to work in BC; and
  • workshops and information to help employers stay current with best practices in human resources.

“The tourism industry often provides people with their important first job and sets them on their career path,” said Keis. “Tourism is also the largest employer of youth, with one-in-four British Columbians under the age of 24 working in the industry.”

“Northern BC is experiencing strong economic growth and tourism businesses, like other sectors, are dealing with a labour crunch,” said Anthony Everett, CEO of Northern BC Tourism Association. “Northern communities have identified tourism as diversifying local economies and adding to their social and cultural well being. A robust industry labour strategy is the foundation to community tourism development in the North and throughout the province.”

To counter a shrinking domestic labour pool and intensifying competition among provinces and other industries, the tourism industry and individual employers will need to use multiple strategies to attract new workers and hold on to the ones already working in the industry.

Tourism businesses in the Kootenay Rockies region are already feeling the pinch of a strong mining sector and Alberta’s oil patch that are siphoning workers away from tourism.

“It is definitely tougher to find qualified people, particularly cooks,” said Heidi Romich, owner of Heidi’s Restaurant in downtown Cranbrook. Her 100-seat restaurant and catering service has been in business for 13 years.

“We are planning longer training periods to help new staff gain experience and we place great emphasis on the retention of existing employees,” said Romich.

The provincial government’s Gaining the Edge: A Five-year Strategy for Tourism in British Columbia targets revenue growth of five per cent a year to top $18 billion in tourism spending by 2016.

“This anticipated growth in tourism reinforces the need to plan carefully and ensure that there are enough workers with the right skills in the right communities to meet the tourism industry’s future labour needs,” said Keis.

This strategy was funded in part through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement.

Venue & Supplier Profiles