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Tourism industry quantifies worker shortage

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While a look in the Classified section says a lot about the current worker shortage in town, a recent survey by go2 – a human resources association created to address the hiring needs of B.C.’s tourism industry – shows that Whistler’s problems are not unique.

In a survey of 400 tourism managers from all sectors of the industry, over 40 per cent are having trouble finding qualified, experienced employees.

Finding cooks was the number one problem, according to 19 per cent of respondents, following by housekeepers at 18 per cent, front desk workers at 10 per cent, dishwashers and bus staff at nine per cent, food and beverage servers at eight per cent and managers at six per cent.

According to go2, the survey demonstrates the need for the tourism industry to increase the awareness of long-term job opportunities.

In 2004 Premier Gordon Campbell called on the tourism industry to double revenues by 2015, and so far the government has backed up that strategy with more funding for industry-specific training programs, while doubling funding for Tourism B.C. Leveraging the 2010 Olympics, Campbell has also made more funding available to communities to host sporting events.

The B.C. tourism industry projects that it will need 84,000 new workers in the next decade, with 44,000 in the food and beverage industry, 19,000 in accommodation, 13,000 in adventure tourism and outdoor recreation, 8,000 in attractions and 500 in travel services.

In Whistler, the most recent survey by the Whistler Housing Authority has discovered that up to 20 per cent of businesses were unable to achieve full staffing levels in the winter of 2003-2004, with an estimated shortage of 300 full time employees.

While affordable housing was considered the number one reason for the employee shortage, a shortage of skilled or qualified candidates was also noted.

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