Labour shortage forecast in local tourism industry

Kootenay Rockies region poised for tourism job growth with more than 3,000 new job openings by the end of the decade

  • Nov. 1, 2013 7:00 a.m.

Regional studies of labour demand and supply by go2hr, B.C. tourism industry’s human resource association, indicate that 3,089 job openings are expected in the Kootenay Rockies by 2020, but the region could face labour shortages as early as 2014.

“The Kootenay Rockies faces specific pressures within our industry,” says Arlene Keis, CEO of go2hr. “The unemployment rate is already as tight as what we saw during the labour shortages in the mid-2000s.  Compared to many areas of the province, the region will also have a higher percentage of jobs opening up due to retirements, and the Kootenay Rockies is also affected by seasonality and retention challenges, particularly in resort communities.”

The average regional labour demand growth rate is projected to be 1.3 per cent annually, which is slightly lower than the provincial average of 1.6 per cent. By 2020, the region is expected to have a labour shortage of 438 positions left to be filled, which accounts for three per cent of the province’s anticipated shortages.  The food and beverage, and recreation and entertainment sectors will be the hardest hit.

“The Kootenay Rockies region is already feeling the effects of labour shortages in the tourism sector,” said Heidi Romich, owner of the Heid Out. “A number of our residents are drawn into the resource industries in the Kootenay Rockies, northern British Columbia, and Alberta, making it increasingly difficult for small businesses to fill positions in our industry.”

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 B.C.’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:

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

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

• Extend recruitment reach nationally and internationally.

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

• Address the need for accessible and affordable training options in 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 at