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'We need to pour the foundation': Sask. hospitality industry receiving $400,000 to help with labour shortages


The provincial government will be providing $400,000 to Hospitality Saskatchewan to address labour shortages in the industry.

The province said the funding will expand and strengthen workforce development initiatives in the hospitality sector by developing a plan to recruit, settle, and retain local and international workers.

“Especially coming out of the pandemic, recruitment and retention of people working in this industry is critical,” Sask Party MLA Christine Tell told reporters at an announcement Tuesday.

The province said investments like this support the Saskatchewan Labour Market Strategy, which addresses how Saskatchewan people can benefit from the growing economy.

“We need to pour the foundation,” Hospitality Saskatchewan President and CEO Jim Bence said. “What gives Saskatchewan its stickiness and why do people stay here?”

“Those are great conversations to have in order to set a strategy as to how we go about that,” he added.

Atlas Hotel CEO Ryan Urzada said the industry is still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospitality Saskatchewan says as many as 7 out of 10 teenagers begin their work experience within their sector.

“There’s a connection between the people and how they grow in this industry,” Urzada said. “Ultimately the pandemic crushed that.”

“[The pandemic] illuminated the problems [the industry] had,” Bence explained.

Urzada said bringing people back into the hospitality sector for work has been a struggle.

“[We] were the first hit and longest lasting impacting,” he said. “It has severed the connection a lot of young people who had grown up in the industry had.”

“We’ve found ourselves starting over,” Urzada explained.

The province believes it is better positioned to provide employers with the support required to address job vacancies to promote growth within the sector.

Some of the funding will go towards a government human resources portal which connects businesses with prospect employees.

Many small or medium-sized businesses in the sector may not have access to HR services.

“A big part of that stickiness is how are people on boarded?” Bence said. “That portal will address that.”

“The people in Saskatchewan, what are we doing for them,” he added. “And then working hard for employers and making sure they have the foundation they need.”

This includes expanding and strengthening partnerships with Indigenous communities to grow the participation of Indigenous people in the tourism sector and connecting businesses to newcomer settlement supports.

"This investment supports Saskatchewan's Labour Market Strategy by preparing jobseekers for the opportunities employers in the tourism and hospitality sector are creating, with a focus on growing Indigenous participation in the workforce,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said in a news release from the province. Top Stories

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