Not a day goes by we don’t hear about labour shortages wreaking havoc across several industry sectors, including the hospitality business. If you’re someone whose job it is to hire people, the statistics are harrowing. Is it any wonder hoteliers across the country face daily consternation? This is especially so in Western Canada where a protracted building boom is taking place and is expected to continue right into 2010, when B.C. welcomes the world to the Winter Olympics.

What’s a hotelier to do? The short answer is whatever you can to ensure you have able bodies to do the job. Some business operators are implementing unique initiatives to lure employees, while others are opting for less traditional means of recruitment. But the long-term answer is not so simple given Canada’s declining birthrate, the economic boom in Western Canada and this country’s outdated immigration laws, which have been slow to recognize today’s new reality.

As noted demographer David Foot recently pointed out at Foodservice Interchange 2007 in Toronto, the labour shortage the industry is experiencing is bound to intensify by 2020. With the exception of a few nations (Turkey and Afghanistan to name a couple) the birthrate continues to decline around the globe. And with international competition stiffer than ever, the hospitality industry is vying with nations around the world for a shrinking labour pool.

So what happens now? Like other desperate sectors, the first inclination is to cry out for help, hoping someone is listening. We’re proud to announce Hotelier magazine, along with sister publication, Foodservice and Hospitality, are answering your call. On May 14, as Canadians prepare to plunge into the first long weekend of the summer, and students revamp their resumés to gain summer work, we will be holding the first-ever conference dedicated to the labour issue. Called Labour 20/20, the day-long meeting will be held in bucolic King City, Ont., (a half-hour’s drive from Toronto) at the world-class Kingbridge Centre conference facility. In addition to providing a macro perspective on the world’s labour shortages, the conference will bring industry sectors together to examine the key areas of recruiting, retaining, training and developing employees. Additionally, various levels of government will be invited to tackle the issues collaboratively.

Our keynote presenter will be David Foot, noted professor of economics at the University of Toronto and world-renowned demographer and author. He will be joined by Gemini-award winning CBC television broadcaster and author Evan Solomon, who will lead a town hall forum bringing together industry leaders from the hotel and foodservice industries, as well as from other sectors to brainstorm, strategize and develop long-range goals to address this challenge.

We hope you can attend this key industry initiative, which promises to change the way we think about human capital. For further information on the conference contact me directly at  


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