by Gloria Welton
On PEI, fall visitations and reservations continue to be incredibly strong. Many job openings have been extended into the fall as the industry takes a look at what is needed to attract and retain more people to tourism careers that offer a vast variety of employment choices.
Tourism includes Accommodations, Food & Beverage Services, Travel Services, Transportation, and Recreation & Entertainment.
“Labour shortages are the biggest issue not just on PEI but across the country,” says Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of PEI. “From a national perspective, labour shortages will be an ongoing issue for the next couple of years.
“When border restrictions lifted, PEI got busy. However, in August the labour shortage hit hard and many food and beverage operators reduced their hours and some accommodations did not open fully.
“We have always had a shortage of kitchen and room attendant staff. Now we have another layer of difficulty because pandemic restrictions resulted in many layoffs, and many did not return to the industry. Experienced middle-managers were among the ones laid off, and many have not returned.”
What is needed to raise awareness and attract and retain staff?
Corryn says operators want to take care of the staff they have and make sure they are paying attention to their needs, including work/life balance.
“During this busy time and coping with staff shortages, some senior management teams are doing some front-line work themselves and employers are looking at building up their employee packages. Industry-wide there is an acute awareness of making sure they are taking care of the team they have, while bringing and keeping new staff.
“We are having conversations with our members, non-members, and at a national level about the future. We are looking at the causes of the shortages and how to engage and retain employees. There are a lot of factors in play such as hours of work, wages, professional development, and training.
“Over the last two years, TIAPEI has offered entry-level cook training, which was very successful in helping people to enter the industry. We are looking at expanding this training.
“We have held a number of short-term training programs such as Passport to Employment, which helps mature workers enter this industry. These programs support and encourage people to consider the industry, build on personal skills, and connect with employers. We are working with many more groups to offer this type of training.
“We also offer e-merit training, which has been in place for many years. It is a strong support to the industry to have staff with the skills for a wide variety of jobs.”
Corryn talked about the great work of a TIAPEI staff member who visits high schools to talk about tourism and all that it offers. “We have been talking about expanding this service and how we can help educate and engage people to consider growing a career in the industry.”
Tourism has long been an appealing industry for youth to explore and work in as they continue their education. Many have paid their way through post-secondary while working in the tourist industry gaining transferable skills.
Further to helping youth become aware of their options, Corryn says this industry is perfect for students who have graduated from grade 12 and would like to take a year off. “We are taking a look at helping these youth to take short-term training and/or be employed as they explore their career options. This experience could open their eyes to staying in the industry or building skills while exploring their options.
“We are in the business of bringing people together, which makes it a dynamic industry, whether working in it as a career choice or while exploring options.
“The last year and a half has been difficult, but the industry is coming back and we need people to support it. Working with secondary and post-secondary is key to our planning.
“The ultimate goal for all of us here at TIAPEI is the outreach and engagement with our members, non-members, and the community as a whole to help the industry as best we can.
“The best approach is working together. We have to look at how to get through the present situation, and then we need forward thinking to develop, grow, and rebuild.”
Corryn says TIAPEI has a very efficient team. “It has been so easy for me coming into this new position to have veterans here who certainly know what they are doing.
“I am at hopeless optimist, and I think the labour shortages now and in the future provide great opportunities for individuals looking for careers. I think this industry is a pretty great environment to be in. We are in the business of making people happy and putting smiles on people’s faces. With every challenge comes great opportunity, and we are excited to evolve.”
Opportunity is the message. “This is an industry where you can work part-time, full-time, or seasonally, or you could start up a business,” says Corryn. “Every choice offers lots of opportunity for advancement and growth.”
The TIAPEI team
- Corryn Clemence – CEO
- Dianne Bishop – Executive Assistant & Board Secretary
- Colleen Bowes – Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) Secretariat Coordinator
- Kelley Keefe – ACAT Program Manager
- Lori DesRoches – Financial Administrator
- Debbie Mol – Job Fair Coordinator
- Alex MacKenzie – Industry HR Coordinator
- Kirk Nicholson – Tourism Operator Advisor
- Kim Doyle – Industry Engagement and Communications Officer
“Tourism is a great industry. I have a strong and experienced team at TIAPEI. They have all worked here for 10 or more years and have dedicated their careers to doing what they can for the industry,” Corryn says.
“We are a team of eight, plus a staff member who works on contract throughout the year and has been doing this for over 20 years. All the staff are fantastic unsung heroes. We are thinking about adding one new person to the team, and as we grow, possibly another new position as well.”
For more information about the many career options and pathways in tourism, contact TIAPEI at 902-566-5008.