Employing newcomers in Canadian hotels

OTTAWA —  World Refugee Day, June 20, was an important day for the hotel industry. The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) and Tourism HR Canada, joined the Honourable Ahmen Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, to launch the Employing Newcomers in Canadian Hotels Pilot Project

Attendees included members of the Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors, in Ottawa for their June meeting, as well as staff from the event’s host hotel, the Westin Ottawa. The Westin Ottawa cook Tao Huynh was profiled, as she arrived in Canada as a refugee from Vietnam in the 1970s, and has built a successful career at the Westin while raising a family of four children, now adults with their own careers.

This three-year pilot program will
see nearly $7 million dedicated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to
connect newcomers to Canada with jobs in the hotel industry in 5 regions across the country.

“We are delighted to partner with the Government of Canada and Tourism HR Canada on this
exciting program that will help people new to Canada join our industry,” said Susie Grynol, president of the HAC. 

“This is a win-win for newcomers and hoteliers. Those employed through
the program will have an opportunity to obtain work experience that will help them develop
critical skills as well as room to grow, while Canadian hotels can address job vacancies.”

This pilot program is one of the first through IRCC’s $32 million dedicated funding stream for
service delivery improvements and innovations made under the government’s settlement
program. This initiative will assist up to 1,300 unemployed or underemployed newcomers to
secure a range of hotel jobs, including both entry level and management positions.

Tourism HR Canada president Philip Mondor sees this initiative as the right fit at the right
time. “The innovative model we’ll be deploying for this initiative targets key challenges faced
by both employers and new employees. A common challenge often referenced by employers
is that newcomers often do not possess the language skill level necessary to properly engage
in the training, and other onboarding activities they will be subject to. This project addresses
that issue head-on, providing contextualized language skill training is a core component of the
model being implemented,” states Mondor.

The Honourable Ahmen Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The Honourable Ahmen Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

More than 10 per cent of tourism jobs go unfilled because of labour market issues. Projections show
that demand for workers will exceed supply for the majority of occupations in the
accommodations industry, from frontline positions to supervisors and managers. The tourism
industry is a powerful economic driver across Canada, representing $41.2 billion of Canada’s
GDP in 2017. This new program will help to rebuild lost economic opportunity from unfilled
jobs.

“The advantage of working in hotels is more than just the simple fact that jobs are available.
Hotel jobs are a springboard to build a lifelong and fulfilling career,” concluded Grynol. “Hotels
offer a variety of positions, strong upward mobility, training and investment in employees.
When you work in a hotel you quickly improve language and customer service skills and learn
cultural nuances. There is no better place to cultivate these skills than working in a hotel
environment.”