Skilled Trades Ontario is undergoing a strategic planning process to set direction for the agency over the next three years. They have reached out to Tony Elenis, President and CEO of ORHMA for his feedback and recommendations from a hospitality sector perspective.
Elenis gave praise to the government’s shift in promoting trade jobs. Training in the trades increase the number of jobs in the workforce which ultimately benefits both the individual participant and the employer. It is imperative to point out however that hospitality occupations have not been included in this. The big concern remains that our hospitality sector continues to face workforce issues and we hope that Skilled Trades Ontario can recognize this.
According to Tony, while hospitality schools are full of International Students through an aggressive overseas campaign, there has not been very much done to attract our domestic youth to work in hospitality and the numbers back it up. Our industry has its strengths including progressive career paths leading to management positions and the development of interchangeable skills. Promoting trade jobs in its current definition creates another layer of competition of our industry if hospitality occupations aren't included.
Elenis pointed out that a sustainable model is required to carry on the work that ORHMA is doing through OHI in connecting industry with secondary schools and raising our youth’s inspirations in hospitality fields. He also promoted the Be Our Guest Program, a successful program piloted in the City of Toronto and expanded by ORHMA. Be Our Guest opens the doors to secondary school students to spend time with the various managers and understand the industry as they are making career path decisions.
Furthermore, attention needs to be given to the International Students who have the interest for hospitality jobs but we have no metrics to truly measure how many graduates stay and work in the industry. Focus and efficiencies in this are is imperative.
Lastly he added that “hospitality jobs such as the ones in culinary are skilled jobs yet not represented and classified as such in Ontario’s Provincial Nominee Program that attracts immigrants and supports a pathway to permanent work status.” Elenis believes a modified model of Europe’s Journeyman trade model where a student partners with an employer and has the ability to work during their school years gaining both technical and behavioral skills can go along way in keeping hospitality students in the fields they chose to with perhaps a core job earned upon graduation that would be close to a supervisory position.