Rapid Response program for Tourism Workers

TORONTO — The disruption to the global economy from COVID-19 is unprecedented and rapidly evolving with its impact on the Canadian labour market likely to be widespread, long-lasting, and unpredictable. The Future Skills Centre (FSC) and OTEC recently announced a rapid response project for the hundreds of thousands tourism and hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The goal is to equip these displaced workers to be able to navigate an uncertain future and get new skills for changing jobs by 1) understanding and supporting their immediate needs, 2) mapping their skills and assets, and 3) finding and implementing in real-time new approaches to digitally reskilling and upskilling.

The project includes an online platform where workers will find immediate services to support resilience during the crisis. Through the platform, displaced workers will access information about COVID-related government benefits, training, certifications, tourism and hospitality job opportunities, and options to work in jobs in related industries.

The online platform will also provide support for businesses. Using it, employers will be able to support employees while they are laid off, track the stages of recovery, and respond to new realities — as the industry adapts, new business models arise, and workers will need, for example, new training in safety and protective equipment and spacing.

The project will be launched in phases and tested in Ontario first. FSC and OTEC are working with industry partners like Tourism HR Canada to look for opportunities to share and scale the project in other provinces.

In Ontario, industry partners in the project include the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), the Hospitality Workers Training Centre (HWTC), Tourism HR Canada, and Tourism SkillsNet Ontario.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality sector has been rapid and devastating,” said OTEC president and CEO Adam Morrison. “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are now out of work and need help. Through this project, and the broad collaboration it represents, our industry will come out of this crisis more resilient and better prepared to respond in difficult times such as these.”