British Columbia’s Indigenous Peoples are emerging as an important part of the solution to the labour shortages facing the province’s tourism industry.
The Indigenous labour force is growing three-to-five times faster than the labour force as a whole. According to Statistics Canada, approximately half of the Indigenous population is currently under 25 – a significant demographic factor when you consider that the majority of today’s Indigenous youth will enter the labour force at a time when the greatest number of BC’s workers is on the brink of retirement.
BC’s tourism industry is still growing. The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games delivered on their promise, propelling the industry to a whole new level. BC’s First Nations made a great showing at the Games as the Four Host First Nations, partnered with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and the Indigenous Tourism Association of BC to bring Indigenous people and communities (via solid cultural and tourism training) into world focus as they ably welcomed visitors to our province.
For your tourism-related business, you can still tap into this enthusiastic group of talented young people by forging strong relationships with First Nations in your area and with the many Indigenous agencies that assist with employment and training.
Here are some practical tips and useful links to help you get started:
PARTNER WITH THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY
Get ideas from the federal government’s Indian and Northern Affairs Canada website. Its “Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative Employer Toolkit” features a series of useful checklists, including:
- Making a commitment to increase Indigenous employment in your business.
- Making sure all levels of management are on side.
- Seeking opportunities for partnerships, sponsorships and promotions with an Indigenous focus in your community.
- Ensuring that members of your team who make hiring decisions are familiar with Indigenous issues and opportunities.
RECRUIT THE WORKERS YOU NEED NOW
Find trained staff and cultural performers by contacting these local groups:
- Aboriginal Friendship Centre
- Indigenous Tourism Association of BC
- Indigenous employment services centres:
Another excellent program that trains young tourism interns is the Aboriginal Youth Ambassador Program, hosted by the Squamish Nation and run in partnership developed with input and funding from VanCity, Capilano College, Western Economic Diversification Canada and Link BC, among others.
Indigenous student counsellors at your local community college or university can help put you in contact with business and tourism-management graduates. Many schools also run specific Indigenous tourism and business programs, including:
- Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Merritt
- Native Education College, Vancouver
- University of BC Sauder School of Business Chinook Program, Vancouver
Other helpful resources are:
Developing your own strategy to attract Indigenous workers can help you meet your HR and business needs close to home. It will also bring a fresh perspective to your business culture, one that could open up new market opportunities and improved community relations.