The second Business Walk in 2015 focussing on human resources issues within a specific industry sector was conducted by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission November 2-6. Of the 44 tourism businesses interviewed, almost three quarters – 74% - said they were challenged by recruitment/retention issues.

The Human Resources Business Walk was created in follow up to the major HR issues Okanagan businesses in all sectors are expected to face as identified in the 2014 study,“Growing in the Okanagan – 2020 Labor Market Outlook.” Through this study, the tourism sector reported a number of issues from difficulty finding workers to training and succession planning. The Central Okanagan Business Walk program has provided an opportunity to look more specifically at the HR needs of tourism businesses throughout the Central Okanagan. An HR Business Walk to Central Okanagan manufacturers was conducted in April.

The November Business Walk saw industry stakeholders connect with diverse tourism businesses, from restaurants to extreme sports facilities, with numbers ranging from two to hundreds of employees.

Other highlights from the Tourism HR Business Walk:

  • 81% of the tourism businesses said they were having difficulty finding employees with specific skills. Among the most commonly mentioned positions were front line service, reservations, housekeeping and administration staff, dishwashers, bussers, culinary staff (ticketed and unticketed) and fruit pickers. Filling more specialized and senior positions such as supervisors, brewers, tour guides and formally trained baristas was also challenging.
  • When asked how many employees they expected to have in three years, only 38% of respondents expect to have more employees than they do currently. 62% of respondents expected to have the same number of employees.
  • Strong interest was shown in foreign worker recruitment programs as a mean of sourcing new hires. Although 79% of the tourism businesses had not used a foreign worker recruitment program to date, the majority of these businesses said they would consider using such a program in the future.
  • Less than half (46%) of the businesses said they did not have a formal succession plan.

Information from the HR Business Walk is communicated to civic and business stakeholders for consideration in the development of programs and services that can assist tourism businesses.

“With tourism so important to the Central Okanagan economy, understanding the needs of this sector is essential to identifying solutions that will help our tourism businesses grow and thrive,” says Corie Griffiths, Manager of Economic Development.

View the full report here.