Employment outlook in the hospitality sector

The hospitality sector  may be a good choice for newcomers who are seeking work, either as a first job in Canada or in pursuit of a career. Employers in this industry have long been open to hiring immigrants. As well, jobs are plentiful and diverse. (While restaurants and catering are considered part of the hospitality sector, here we focus mostly on hotels, with separate posts on restaurant and catering work.)

The hospitality industry has traditionally employed large numbers of newcomers. In fact, as pointed out in Hotel staff need help: Study (The Star, April 16/07), of the 30,000 people who worked in Greater Toronto hotels that year, 70 per cent were immigrants.

But even with hiring a significant number of newcomers, the hospitality sector has serious staffing shortages. An article in Canadian HR Reporter states that there are currently thousands of open hospitality jobs. It’s estimated that in the past 15 years, 100,000 jobs in this sector went unfilled. That number is expected to grow.

HospitalityAs suggested in Hospitality Career Outlook Canada 2018, published by the recruiting firm, Gecko Hospitality:

  • “This is a good time to explore transitioning into a Hospitality Career. Growth in the Canadian Tourism industry will require 538,000 jobs be created between 2015 and 2035. The potential growth is so great that the labour force may only be able to fill 345,000  of those job vacancies, leaving 10% unfilled. (UNWTO)
  • “While most of today’s professionals are being downsized, there is a growing need for professionals in the hospitality industry. Restaurant and Hotel managers will be in demand as a younger workforce will lack the experience needed to fill management positions. “Information gathered by Canadian Tourism and Hospitality Management colleges and Hotel Association of Canada paints a bright picture for hospitality in Canada, 2018. Most of the strongest growth in job opportunities are found in Toronto, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia.”

This employment outlook was echoed in an article published in Hotelier magazine in July, 2019, Challenges & Opportunities: Staffing Struggles:

  • “The demand for labour in hotels “far outreaches what’s available,” says Philip Mondor, president of Tourism HR Canada. Between 2010 and 2018, 100,000 jobs went unfilled — advertised positions that tourism employers were unable to find workers for and business expansions that never occurred because labour shortages made them unviable. The Canadian government’s immigration hike (increasing intake to 0.9 per cent in 2020) still anticipates a 64,000-job shortfall.”
  • “Brian Cammack, regional vice-president of Human Resources at Marriott International, is quoted as saying: “the labour shortage in this iteration of the perennial crisis is unique because it extends from entry-level jobs, such as housekeeper and line cook, to directors of Operations and general managers.

Hotels in the GTA

There are over 250 hotels in the Greater Toronto Area, offering some 45,000 rooms. According to a CBRE Hotels report, in 2015 there were 61 hotels in downtown Toronto and 47 in the rest of the City of Toronto.

A partial list of 0ver 65 hotels in the entire GTA includes:

Adelaide Hotel Toronto Kimpton Saint George Hotel
Aloft Vaughan Mills Marriott Bloor Yorkville, Toronto
Bisha Hotel Toronto Marriott Toronto Downtown Eaton Centre
Bond Place Hotel Downtown Eaton Centre Novotel Toronto Centre
Broadview Hotel Novotel Toronto Mississauga Centre
Cambridge Suites Toronto Pantages Hotel Downtown Toronto
Chelsea Hotel, Toronto Park Hyatt Toronto
Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Airport Radisson Admiral Hotel – Toronto Harbourfront
Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown Radisson Suites Toronto Airport
Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto Airport & Conference Centre Residence Inn by Marriott Toronto Airport
Delta Toronto Residence Inn Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District
DoubleTree by Hilton Toronto Airport Shangri-La Hotel Toronto
DoubleTree by Hilton Toronto Downtown Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
Drake Hotel Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Centre
Embassy Suites by Hilton Toronto Airport Super 8 Hotel Downtown Toronto
Executive Hotel Cosmopolitan Toronto The Anndore House
Fairmont Royal York The Broadview Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Toronto The Hyatt Regency Toronto
Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown The Ivy at Verity
Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale The Marriott Markham
Hilton Toronto The Omni King Edward Hotel
Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
Holiday Inn Express Toronto Downtown The Strathcona Hotel
Holiday Inn Express Whitby The Waterside Inn
Holiday Inn Toronto Airport East The Westin Harbour Castle
Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre The Westin Prince Toronto
Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport The Westin Toronto Airport Hotel
Holiday Inn Toronto Yorkdale Thompson Toronto
Hotel Carlingview Toronto Airport Toronto Airport Marriott
Hôtel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Hôtel Le Germain-Toronto Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel
Hotel Victoria Toronto Toronto Marriott Markham
Hotel X Toronto by Library Hotel Collection Town Inn Suites
InterContinental Toronto Centre Townplace Suites Mississ+H2:H35auga-Airport Corporate Centre
InterContinental Toronto Yorkville

Also opening in 2020 are expected to be:

  • 1 Hotel Toronto; and
  • W Hotel.

Hotel occupations

Excluding food & beverage positions, hotel-related jobs may be broadly categorized as follows:

  • Hotel management and administration;
  • Event planning;
  • Front-of-the-house; and
  • Maintenance and cleaning.

Hotel Management and Administration Positions

The Balance Careers website places the following jobs within the Hotel Management and Administration category:

  • Hotel Manager or Hotel Director
  • Sales and Marketing Manager
  • Catering Sales Manager
  • Group Sales Manager
  • Guest Room Sales Manager
  • Spa Manager
  • Wedding Sales Manager
  • Shift Manager
  • Back Office Assistant

These positions are skilled and typically require significant education, experience, and training. The Government of Canada Job Bank website indicates that hotel managers (including assistant managers and front desk managers) require “A university degree or college diploma in hotel management [and] … several years of experience within the accommodation industry.” The rate of pay reflects these requirements.

Event Planning Positions

As The Balance Careers website points out, “many hotels have conference rooms or event spaces that they rent out for various events, ranging from meetings to weddings. An event planner works with the company, or individual, to arrange the event and then ensures the event runs smoothly.” Jobs in this field include:

  • Events Manager
  • Conference Manager
  • Meeting Manager
  • Conference and Meeting Planner / Event Planner
  • Wedding Coordinator

A university degree or college diploma in a related field may be required. Certification is not required, but being certified as an event planner may make it easier to find employment.

Front-of-the-House Positions

Employees in front-of-house jobs interact directly with customers at the front end of the hotel. Jobs in this category include:

  • Concierge
  • Front Desk Associate
  • Guest Services Associate
  • Hotel Clerk
  • Reservations Agent
  • Baggage Porter or Bellhop
  • Valet

The Government of Canada Job Bank website indicates that a median rate of pay for these positions is about $14.00/hour, which is minimum wage in Ontario.

Maintenance and Housekeeping Positions

Occupations in maintenance and housekeeping include management positions as well. Job titles in this category include:

  • Director of Housekeeping
  • Director of Maintenance
  • Director of Operations
  • Housekeeping, Maintenance or Operations Supervisor
  • Housekeeper
  • Maintenance worker (may do heavy cleaning as well as minor building repairs and painting and moving furniture, equipment, and supplies.)

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank website, hotel cleaners make a median wage of $15.00/hour and maintenance workers a median wage of $17.00/hour. Cleaning supervisors make a median wage of $20.00/hour.

Need for English Language Proficiency

Hotel management and administration and event planning positions require highly-developed language skills. According to the Government of Canada Job Bank website, hotel managers, for instance, are required to negotiate with suppliers and clients, prepare budgets and marketing plans, develop business plans, address customer complaints, and exchange information with employees.

Other positions in this sector don’t have the same language requirements. For those employed in guest services and customer relations, such as hotel front desk clerks, a minimum of CLB 4 is  undoubtedly required, but employers may seek those at the CLB 5 to CLB 8 levels, as a minimum. Those working in positions that require little customer interaction, such as housekeeping room attendants, may be able to find employment with a proficiency level of CLB 4 and maybe even less.

Employers in the hospitality sector recognize that language proficiency can be a significant hurdle for newcomers seeking employment. Those businesses involved with the Destination Employment project, in particular, offer on-the-job language training. This practical training will help newcomers achieve the language proficiency required by their positions.

Regulation and Certification

The hospitality industry is not regulated in Ontario. No certificates or licenses are required to work in this sector.

Training Programs in the GTA

Many positions in the hospitality industry require only on-the-job training. However, there are some training programs in the GTA that that focus on helping newcomers find work in this sector.

In the summer of 2018, the Hotel Association of Canada worked with Tourism HR Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to launch a 3-year, pilot program called Destination Employment. This is is a multi-faceted, national program, which provides newcomers to Canada with the support, services and training they require to find employment and gain Canadian workplace experience once they settle in Canada. It is also designed to support hoteliers with finding skilled workers as they face increasing labour shortages in the preliminary pilot markets of Ottawa, Greater Toronto Area, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor and Kingston in Ontario, as well  in four other regions of Canada: Alberta, Atlantic Canada, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. The stated goal is to mobilize at least 1,300 refugees and new Canadians into available hotel jobs in the five regions across the country.

See this video about the Destination Employment program, featuring ACCES Employment, which offers the program in the Greater Toronto Area.

For more information, go to the Programs and Events section of our website and filter for programs by “Sector,” choosing “Hospitality.” Organizations that offer such programs include:

  • Access Employment;
  • CultureLink, together with the Hospitality Workers Training Centre; and
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hotel (annual program, possibly to be repeated in 2020.)

Other providers of entry-level programs in hospitality, not just aimed at newcomers, include:

  • Hospitality Workers Training Centre; and
  • Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre.

Airbnb home Cleaning & Turnover Service

Another source of employment for newcomers has emerged relatively recently, with the arrival of home rentals through online services such as Airbnb. There are currently over 17,000 units listed by Airbnb in the City of Toronto, all of which need to be cleaned, although many of these may be cleaned by the homeowner him or herself. By Googling “Airbnb cleaning services”, one can find the names and contact information of many different companies which employ the equivalent of housekeeping staff.

Banquet halls, conference and convention centres, and special event venues

Another component of the hospitality sector consists of banquet halls, conference and convention centres, and special event venues. These can be Googled by geographic area. Food & beverage operations may be outsourced to private contractors, but the facilities may handle operations, maintenance, engineering, sales, and client service in-house.

Job fairs

From time to time, there are job fairs that specialize in the hospitality sector. Jobs Canada Fair, for example, regularly organizes such events across the country and throughout the year. Exhibitors include not only hotels, but also restaurants, casinos, theme parks. And other hospitality sector employers.

Job boards

In addition to general job boards, there is one job board that specializes in the hospitality sector, called Hcareers. A user can filter by location (such as Toronto or Mississauga), industry (such as hotel or conference/meeting events, and position category (management/non-management.)

Employer Tool Kit

In 2018, Hospitality Workers Training Centre launched a toolkit on its website, Serve up Success: New Youth and You, for hospitality and food service employers engaging immigrant and refugee youth.

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