BC’s tourism industry poised for 100,000 new job openings

Regional studies of labour demand and supply by go2hr, BC tourism industry’s human resource association, indicate that more than 100,000 job openings are expected by 2020, but all of British Columbia’s six tourism regions could face labour shortages as early as 2014.

“Each region faces specific pressures within our industry,” says Arlene Keis, CEO of go2hr. “Sectors ranging from food & beverage and accommodation to transportation and outdoor recreation will be affected by a combination of tourism growth, retirements, and increasing competition for workers.”

More than 14,000 shortages will exist across the industry, with the highest volume existing in food & beverage, accommodation and recreation & entertainment. The transportation sector will be particularly vulnerable in relative terms as the shortages represent a higher portion of overall labour supply in that sector.

For each region, areas of particular concern vary, and are highlighted in the findings from the regional studies. For example, in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region, the resort municipality of Whistler is already experiencing challenges in the recruitment and retention of skilled workers, particularly in the culinary trades and with supervisory or management roles. In Northern British Columbia, the expanding mining and oil and gas sectors are enticing young workers to take positions, creating an added strain on the tourism providers in the region.

Regions like Vancouver Island and the Kootenay Rockies have tourism industry employees who are older than the provincial average, creating a need for more replacement jobs. The Thompson Okanagan 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. And, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, known for its numerous niche tourism experiences, is susceptible to recruitment challenges as a result of its rural environment and lack of a major population centre.

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 BC 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.