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14 million jobs at risk due to global tourism talent shortage

14 million jobs at risk due to global tourism talent shortage
March 10, 2015

Over 14 million jobs globally are at risk in the tourism industry if Governments and private sector companies do not act now to address the talent shortage in the industry.

Research conducted for the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) by Oxford Economics shows that the industry could employ 14 million fewer people and contribute US$610 billion less in GDP to the world economy over the next ten years, when compared to accepted growth forecasts, if Government and private companies fail to implement policies which promote proactive and careful talent management.

Tourism currently sustains 266 million jobs, once the indirect and induced impacts are taken into consideration, a figure projected to rise to 347 million by 2024. Similarly, the industry contributed nearly US$7 trillion to the global economy in 2014; which is forecast to rise to US$11 trillion by 2024.

The research, for the first time, quantifies the sheer scale of the human resource challenge in tourism and the potential impact of the skill shortage on the 2024 projections, which are the equivalent of lowering the level of global total tourism employment by 4% compared to the baseline projected level in 2024.

The research looked at 46 countries, which together account for over 80% of the world’s tourism employment and GDP, and assessed how well placed these countries are to create the right ‘enabling’ environment to develop this talent over the next 10 years. It shows that there is a serious shortage of the right people, in the right place, with the right skills, to meet the growth of tourism over the next ten years.

This research warns of serious potential economic cost over the next ten years. The total impact of talent gaps and deficiencies, including indirect and induced impacts, could cost the global economy approximately 14 million jobs and nearly US$610 billion in GDP (measured in 2013 prices and exchange rates). This jobs figure is 4% lower than the baseline projected levels of employment in 2024.

The research also underlines that tourism’s human capital challenges are significantly higher than those faced in other sectors, with 37 out of 46 countries showing a talent ‘deficit’ or ‘shortage’ in the industry over the next ten years, compared with only six out of 46 for the economy overall.

Commenting on the importance of the report’s findings, WTTC President and Chief Executive David Scowsill stated “travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors … it drives jobs and economic growth; well-being and prosperity (and) creates jobs at different skills levels for often-marginalised sectors of society, such as young people and women, and in areas where other employment opportunities are scarce.

“Failure to plan properly for talent requirements leads to lower growth, reduced investment, less innovation and declining competitiveness – for both countries and companies.

“When I speak to the leaders of the world’s travel and tourism companies, it is clear that the biggest challenge to their growth plans is the supply and retention of talent across all levels of their businesses. That is borne out by this research.

“It is alarming to consider that over 14 million jobs and $610 billion could be lost to the world economy over the next years, if Government and private companies fail to implement policies which promote proactive and careful talent management.

“We are a people industry which depends on quality people to deliver a quality product to our customers. I urge anyone with an interest in our great industry to act now to address the anticipated talent shortage.

“We need the right policies, programs and partnerships in place, to ensure that the workforce of the future knows about the opportunities in our sector, and has the appropriate skills and knowledge to support future growth.”

Click here to download Global Talent Trends and Issues for the Travel & Tourism Sector.

Images courtesy of Canterbury Christchurch Tourism (top) and Australian Indigenous tourism in Broome, Western Australia (below).

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