Tour Operators, Travel Trends

The Great Upskilling of Labour

The Great Upskilling of Labor is a solution to the labour shortage crisis within the tourism industry. By improving the skills and knowledge of current employees, travel companies can improve their efficiency by educating, preparing, and promoting staff for management positions and focusing on the career-long benefits of their employees and brand.

The Gap Between Available Workers and Open Positions

​​The separation between available workers and open positions in the travel and tourism industry is too large to solve. As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly overturned, the only way for travel brands to succeed and thrive is to begin educating smaller labour populations with new skills, through the Upskilling of Labor.

The Current State of Tourism Labor

The easing of lockdown and travel restrictions from the pandemic has increased the need for tourism labour, as international tourists begin to create high demands that are shaping the tourism industry once again. Meanwhile, many employers are having trouble finding enough locals to staff their respective sectors of the travel industry. 

The labour shortage crisis has been commonly blamed on factors such as government pandemic relief efforts. However, as the availability of vaccines has increased, the need for relief efforts has dwindled. With the introduction of travel certificates, which allow the return of international travel, it is clear that the travel and tourism demands will only continue to increase as society returns to a state of normal. 

The need for strong tourism labour that is equal to that of pre-pandemic times has arrived, and it is critical for the success of the travel industry to find a way to meet that need.

Tourism Labor and Covid 

Travel sectors need to stop worrying about when their employees will come back, now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased. The truth is that even though the worst effects of the pandemic seem to be over for the travel industry, there are much fewer workers than before and it is likely that they will not be returning.

How is Tourism Labor Intensive?

Tourism is labour intensive, as employees within the industry are often required to work long shifts that rarely have flexible hours, causing a reluctance of former employees to return to the industry after the massive layoffs during the pandemic. Before the emergence of COVID-19, tourism labour was only concerned about the competition for talent among new and current workers and how to present tourism and travel companies or brands as a good place to work.

The Upskilling of Labor

Now, instead of attempting to find and hire new employees to regain pre-pandemic employment numbers, the travel and tourism industry should focus on the Upskilling of Labor. 

The practice of Upskilling Labor is all about making do with the employees that your company already has. Companies should focus on the calibre of workers, in order to increase employees’ abilities and knowledge of the travel industry. 

The question that companies should consider, according to Skift, is “how do we pivot and really focus on the quality of the employee and invest in their ability to grow and learn in the industry and grow up in a quicker manner than may have been possible five to ten years ago?”

How Can Travel Brands Prepare for the Upskilling of Labor?

The push toward Upskilling of labour within the travel industry does not always need to be centred around training employees to counteract the lasting pandemic-driven labour shortages. 

Instead, focusing on how to make the travel industry more attractive as a career path could be more beneficial in the long run for the travel sector. For example, Marriott’s Tahseen leadership program is focused on pursuing positive social change. By providing Middle Eastern students with a comprehensive education in the travel-connected hospitality industry, the Tahseen leadership program has succeeded in inspiring the desire for leadership positions among its candidates. In fact, more than 75% of the program’s graduates remain employed at Marriott and have advanced their careers to positions of managerial responsibility. 

Travel brands can prepare for the Upskilling of Labor by simply encouraging and preparing current employees to focus on being trained for emerging roles, working on improving efficiency through education of the industry, preparing and promoting staff for management positions, and focusing on career-long benefits 

3 Tips for Using Human-Centered Design in Your Upskilling of Labour Efforts, According to WestMonroe

1: Emphasize and Listen to The Voice of Your Employees

  • Survey and interview people to define their experience and the challenge they face

2: Collaborate and Co-Create

  • Design new employee experiences based on their perspective, and iterate

3: Collect and Incorporate Feedback 

  • Adopt a product mindset where you are never “done” and are constantly improving 

How Does Tourism Create Employment?

Tourism plays a large part in the creation of employment opportunities, especially within the people and communities surrounded by travel and destination locations. 

The tourism industry has a tremendous capacity to fuel economies and accelerate or improve conditions. 

The types of employment generated by tourism can be categorized as either direct or indirect, as classified by The Bureau of Economic Analysis.

1: Direct tourism employment- from all domestically produced goods and services that are made for travellers to purchase

2: Indirect tourism employment- from all output required to support the production of direct tourism output.

The Types of Employment Generated by Tourism

Direct employment generated by tourism can be seen in the form of tour operators, hotel staff, tourist offices, tourist guides and transport operators. 

Meanwhile, indirect employment stemming from tourism includes food suppliers that provide to businesses such as hotels and those who offer ancillary services to hotels, such as taxi drivers who then earn indirect wages from tourism. 

Another aspect of employment generated from tourism is seen through shops that provide marketing opportunities for local artists or artisans to sell their work to tourists, as the relation between expenditure and job creation is particularly high in tourism. Additionally, individuals and their families, who are engaged with the tourism industry, require their own goods and services, which facilitates more employment opportunities within shops, schools, and hospitals.

Tourism labour productivity and upskilling of labour

Productivity in tourism is the efficiency of resources that are being used and how they relate to the quality of inputs such as the employment of labour and capital, to outputs. 

A motivating factor for tourism-centred sectors to upskill their labour stems from tourism productivity. The higher the productivity achieved through the increased skill of employees, the more likely it is that the industry will care more deeply about important concepts like sustainability in tourism and the reach towards the achievement of SDGs through tourism employment.
Tourism boards will also be more successful in encouraging tourists to visit a country or area where the travel industry has implemented furthering the careers and success of local employees through the Upskilling of Labor It increases the health of the local economy and environment and the well-being and care of tourists.

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