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2014 may be challenging for tourism operators looking for workers

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association executive director agrees with recent study on impending labour shortages

Regional studies of labour demand 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, including Parksville Qualicum Beach.

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

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association CEP Blain Sepos agreed.

"Our region experienced a serious shortage immediately before the recession," Sepos told The NEWS. "Many local tourism businesses — especially the bigger accommodation properties — have been talking about the issue likely returning as the economy was projected to improve by 2014."

More than 14,000 shortages will exist across the industry, with the highest volume existing in food and beverage, accommodation and recreation and entertainment, according to go2hr.

"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," said a news release from go2hr.

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 B.C. Tourism Labour Market Strategy (TLMS) to help address critical labour needs across the province's six tourism regions.

To help the tourism industry align workforce, training and education strategies, go2hr said it 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 said it also offers a comprehensive website that includes a free tourism niche job board and multiple informational resources.

This research was funded in part through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement. The regional labour studies are available  at

go2hr said it is is B.C.'s tourism and hospitality human resource association responsible for coordinating the B.C. Tourism Labour Market Strategy. go2hr said tourism is one of the largest resource industries in B.C., comprising 18,000 mostly small to medium-sized businesses.