Selkirk College Professional Cook Training students Azalea Lloyd (right) and Cam Maglio prepare strawberry shortcake desserts for the lunch cafeteria menu at the Tenth Street Campus on Wednesday. The School of Hospitality and Tourism program is training students for what the provincial government has identified as a high-growth area in the coming years.

The power of tourism sector not set to wane

Nelson's Selkirk College is part of the solution for an industry that will be key in province's future.

For some, a dream job would be a vacation planner — for themselves. Vacationing in BC can take so many forms that it would indeed be a full-time job.

The tourism and hospitality industry is extremely diverse with over 400 different occupations — including ones that lead to longer-term careers, as well as those that fit well for those seeking part-time work, like students or older workers not yet ready to retire.

British Columbia’s tourism industry will be a leader in provincial job growth as businesses look to fill 101,000 new job openings by 2020, according to a study of labour demand and supply by go2, the BC tourism industry’s human resource association.

The Tourism Labour Market Strategy, released in the spring of 2012 by go2, sets out the plan to recruit, retain and train the workers needed to keep pace with the growth projected for the industry. Nearly half of the 101,000 openings will be new jobs created by the tourism industry across the province, adding 44,220 more jobs to the provincial workforce by 2020. The other approximately 57,000 openings are due to replacements (i.e. retirements).

“The labour strategy co-ordinated by go2 is a key pillar of industry growth in the province,” says Lana Denoni, chair of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia. “Without it, we simply wouldn’t have the skilled workers in place to deliver the visitor experience throughout BC.”

British Columbia’s location, bordered by the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, makes it unique within Canada.

Its mountain and coastal scenery, opportunities for summer sailing, winter skiing, and other activities such as fishing or sightseeing in coastal or inland waters or experiencing our vibrant cities all make us a world-class destination.

Tourism helps to diversify our economy and also brings new community services to permanent residents.

BC’s tourism and hospitality industry is now the single largest “primary resource industry” in the province, generating an annual real GDP ($2002) of more than $6.4 billion in 2010, ahead of forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, and agriculture.

Tourism and hospitality generated $13.4 billion in annual revenue in 2010. Overall, between 2004 and 2010, industry revenues grew by a total of 25.5 per cent, representing an average annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent.

The provincial government’s Gaining the Edge: A Five-year Strategy for Tourism in British Columbia targets revenue growth of five per cent a year that will top $18 billion in tourism spending by 2016.

Nelson’s Selkirk College is part of the solution to the expected labour shortage in this industry.

The local post-secondary institution’s School of Hospitality and Tourism continues to enjoy solid enrolment as it prepares students for the future.

“To get ahead in this industry you need a combination of both education and experience,” said program instructor Wendy Anderson, who spent a decade in management with the Fairmont and Delta hotel chains. “We provide one side of that equation.”

With the program’s solid reputation, Selkirk students are hot commodities in the industry.

“We have a great stat in our program: 95 per cent of our students have a job within two months of graduation,” she said. “We are very proud of that.”

The fastest-growing sectors for tourism job growth over the next decade are expected to be recreation and entertainment and travel services.

There are an estimated 17,900 tourism-related businesses across the province, employing about 260,000 workers, or 10.8 per cent of BC’s total labour force of 2.4 million people.

For more information head to the career section of go2hr.ca: go2hr.ca/careers-tourism.

 

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