Despite the economic downturn in 2008, the aging population in BC poses a challenge in the labour market – a shortage in skilled people to fill the 111,350 new jobs created in the tourism industry in the next 10 years (2017 – 2027). For employers, persons with disabilities present another pool for sourcing job candidates for these vacancies.
COAST HOTEL ABBOTSFORD
Liz Miller is so enthused about the staff she has hired through the local community agency that this recruiting source has become her preferred point of contact for filling housekeeping vacancies at the Coast Hotel Abbotsford.
As executive housekeeper, the skills required of her staff are physical and demanding and the need to fit in is critical. Since working with the agency to recruit, Liz has hired two room attendants who have settled into their jobs seamlessly and have become well respected members of the housekeeping team.
Finding staff committed to a housekeeping career is one of Liz’s greatest challenges. Not unlike other employers, she believes that perceptions do exist as to the ability of a person with a barrier, either visible or invisible, to be employable.
Liz admits that she had not considered hiring people with disabilities until the agency approached her. When she interviewed her first job candidate from the agency, the case worker accompanied her and Liz immediately saw a match. “Because the employee is such a perfect fit for the job and with the other staff it’s hard for me to see that a disability could have stood in the way of her success.”
She credits her relationship with the agency and case worker to opening her recruiting eyes to this untapped worker group. “They understand the needs of the hotel and select candidates based on their ability to fit with the company and perform the requirements of the job.”
WESTIN GRAND VANCOUVER
Like Mohamed Meghi, most tourism employers know how hard it is to find good employees. As former human resources manager for the Westin Grand Vancouver, Meghi offers equal employment opportunities to all groups and recruits from many labour channels, including people with disabilities.
To him, thinking outside of the box is a necessity when it comes to sourcing out the best job candidates. He believes many companies shy away from this applicant pool because of a perceived impact on the business in terms of cost and time. “ A disability can be so minute; often the smallest things legally label an individual as disabled. The fact is that most disabilities do not affect a person’s ability to do a job and employers should actively source out staff from this pool.”
The hiring goal for every vacancy is to find an employee who is a fit, regardless of what recruiting channel is considered. When the opportunity arises, Meghi contacts the Greater Vancouver Business Leadership Network to fill a position, usually entry-level, that may be suited to a job seeker with a disability. Applicants are pre-screened by the agency prior to the interview and are suited to work in hospitality, regardless of no previous industry experience.
“We always look for somebody who has the skills to perform the tasks and the ability to fit in with the team. The employees we have hired who have a disability bring us a high level of loyalty and commitment and elevate staff morale.” Meghi acknowledges that the benefits of hiring applicants with a disability are far greater than any perceived risks. “Because they stay with us, our costs associated with turnover are significantly reduced, greatly offsetting any additional medical or disability expenses that may be incurred.”