Tourism workforce faces severe headwinds

New research released by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tourism Working Group (TWG) has revealed the region’s tourism industry is on the cusp of being severely impacted by a shrinking skilled labour force.

The TWG engagedGriffith’s Institute for Tourism (GIFT) and EarthCheck to study the future of the tourism workforce across 21 APEC member economies, including Australia and the United States.

The project entitled, Developing the Tourism Workforce of the Future through Labour and Skills Development, Certification and Mobility in the APEC Region’ is sponsored by Australia and co-sponsored by Chile; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; The Republic of the Philippines; and Vietnam.


Dr Andreas Chai

Growth compromised

Dr Andreas Chai, Director of Griffith’s Economic Analysis Program said while the industry is projected to create 25 million jobs worldwide in the next decade, major challenges exist which could severely compromise growth.

“Without access to a skilled and willing labour force, businesses won’t be able to reap the full benefits.

“The growth in the tourism sector is strong, but our study shows there is no guarantee that skilled workers will be attracted to the Small Medium-sized Enterprises (SME)-dominated industries in order to fill the need over the coming generation.”

Recent data from Deloittes showed Australia is staring at a shortage of several thousand positions in the tourism sector by 2020 if there was little or no change to current industry policy and initiatives.

White collar jobs shortage

“Skill shortages in white collar jobs such as accountants and chefs will be prevalent in the developing economies. In developed markets like Australia, shortages will be most acute in the IT anddigital marketing sectors.

“There are several key ways of avoiding future job shortages including improved training opportunities, better working conditions and career pathways chief among them,” Dr Chai said.

The APEC report called “Developing the Tourism Workforce of the Future in the APEC Region” has made 35 recommendations which Dr Chai hopes will be considered to ensure the region’s tourism industry can continue to grow and prosper.