Go with Tourism – a government-funded initiative that aims to build New Zealand’s Tourism & Hospitality workforce – has released the first of two plans that recommend actions the industry can take to improve and future-proof its workforce.

While Tourism Hospitality has always offered a vast range of benefits to
the community in which it operates, the industry is facing a serious skilled
labour shortage businesses are struggling to find talent and are asking
for help.

All New Zealanders deserve good jobs that provide viable career
pathways unfortunately, the Tourism & Hospitality industries are no longer a sector of choice. This mainly stems from a systemic perception issue
towards careers in the industry – a perception of poor working
conditions, low pay, and unclear development pathways.

Tourism & Hospitality has become reliant on migrant workers and
international students. When COVID 19 emerged, it became increasingly
apparent that the industry needs to work together on solutions that will
contribute to a better position.

The sector needs a plan that brings stakeholders together and supports
the education system as well as pathways to employment. It needs to
align with government direction and provide solutions to the workforce
crisis with a unified voice.

Go with Tourism’s Workforce Wānanga 2021 was organised to stimulate
industry effort towards addressing these challenges.

The Workforce Wānanga was hosted by Go with Tourism and was
sponsored by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
and Auckland Unlimited.

It was held online over the two days of 17, 18 November 2021 using Zoom and Lucidspark virtual whiteboards.

The 108 attendees were selected to represent a range of Tourism
Hospitality workforce interests and expertise. They worked together in
groups to discuss how the industry could overcome the workforce
challenges currently being faced. The Wānanga culminated in the
presentation of four solutions to Tourism Minister, Hon Stuart Nash

‘Action Plan 1’ is formed around four immediate actionable activities that were determined by the attendees of the recent Go with Tourism Workforce Wānanga. The event brought together representatives from industry, unions, education, associations, central and local government to address the challenges currently facing Tourism & Hospitality.

The solutions are:

  • A Tourism & Hospitality accord, which establishes a standard for working environments.
  • An industry toolkit that covers business operation, career progression and wellbeing.
  • Career & training opportunities, which will involve a deeper look into resources for existing staff and paid pathways into work.
  • A community engagement programme to improve public perceptions, particularly in secondary schools.

Since the Wānanga, impassioned attendees have continued to work on progressing many of these ideas:

  • Go with Tourism has prepared a ‘Business Enhancement Programme’ proposal in response to an industry toolkit, which provides solutions to drive better industry retention, reinvestment, and productivity.
  • Alex Dykman of Maverick Digital is exploring how a digital online toolkit could be created and be beneficial to Tourism & Hospitality.
  • The Tourism & Hospitality accord is currently being scoped by the original members of the team who developed this idea.
  • Pip Direen has been researching existing micro- credentials in her current role at the Workforce Development Council and will explore how to better connect and partner with the industry.
  • Jason Hill and Dylan Rushbrook of Tourism Talent are re-exploring their ‘Tourism Central’ digital platform that connects industry with one another, creating a community hub of resources.

Matt Stenton, Programme Director of Go with Tourism, says he has been excited by the commitment shown by industry leaders to improve their workforce.

“It would have been easy for the attendees of our Wānanga to suggest band-aid solutions, but instead they concentrated on the crux of our workforce problems and have produced ideas that could make a difference in the long-term.

“Our number one goal for the event was to initiate action and I am thrilled that we are seeing just that. I hope our first plan will inspire others to partner with those currently moving ideas forward, to amplify existing offerings, or even influence further action.

“This is just the beginning – there’s more room for new ideas and further collaboration. I know our second, more comprehensive action plan in February will light a fire under us all.”

‘Action Plan 2’ will be developed from the full range of ideas and material collected across the Go with Tourism Workforce Wānanga. From the vaguest post-it note to quick throwaway comments, no idea will be left uncaptured. The plan will explore who could take ownership and what additional support is needed to move solutions forward.

“With our ideas and recommendations in writing, there are no more excuses to hide behind. 2022 will be the year our industry improves its workforce,” says Stenton.

Action Plan 1 has been shared with the wider industry and can be downloaded from the Go with Tourism website: bit.ly/WorkforceWānanga21

The second plan will follow in February 2022.

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