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Seasonal industries need to get more creative amidst hiring challenges

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June 16, 2022
By Therese Castillo

More than 140,000 summer job opportunities were available for young people between the ages of 15 and 30 years old, according to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) during the launch of the Canada Summer Jobs 2022 hiring period in April. The job openings range from the retail sector, food and beverage industry, marketing, and tourism industry.

While the number of available jobs seems promising, seasonal employers still experience challenges in hiring, which can be attributed to missed opportunities for efficient training due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“With the pandemic, the kids that would usually apply to be lifeguards couldn’t get trained or they had just let their certifications go because it’s not a quick or easy process to be certified as a lifeguard,” said Susan Kruizinga, Director of Sales and Marketing of Wet n’ Wild Toronto.

Missed opportunities

In the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns from March to May 2020, the unemployment rate of Canadian youth ballooned from 17.1 per cent to 28.8 per cent, according to Statistic Canada. This did not only mean missed staffing opportunity for seasonal businesses, but a long-term unemployment for unemployed youth.


“Because of the pandemic, many certification programs were put on pause or simply not running. With reserves taking place to take on the certifications and roles up to standard, it’s really trying to get these executed in a timely fashion so the staff that are present are in accordance and in compliance of what the standards are,” said Joy Levy, Executive Director of Ontario Camps Association.

“Opening in 2022, we are faced with an additional challenge: the staff that left operations in 2021 might have already gone elsewhere – another camp or another industry to work at. That’s another factor that hurt our recruitment process,” she said.

By summer of 2021, while the number of unemployed youth recovered, it still remained higher compared to the number in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.

Employers need to be creative now more than ever

Levy explained the need to be extra creative for seasonal businesses like camps, not only to survive through the height of pandemic, but to continue thriving in the new normal.

“We needed to ramp up efforts to raise awareness about our industry – marketing and communications. We had the goal to raise the bar and drive traffic to our website,” she said. “A few months ago, we had a billboard in Toronto and that helped in website visits. We also increased collaboration with outside programs, like, non-profit employment centres and institutions offering co-ops. We wanted to increase reach of job posting and get the word out there.”

Another strategy to keep operations moving was displayed by Wet’n’Wild Toronto waterparks.

“Over the winter, we have been able to think about what to do so we won’t be in a difficult situation this year,” said Kruizinga. “We train ourselves now and we are investing on internal training. We also certify our regular staff to be lifeguard so we can become more safety conscious, making sure we stick with rules to keep our waterpark safe.”

“When kids are applying now, they look for instant gratifications. It’s important for employers to not waste time. No more job fairs, you must be quick. We do video interviews now – in an instant. We’ve also added texting as a platform, because it takes younger generation a long time to return emails.”

“You must keep up with the times,” said Kruizinga.

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