It’s that time of year again! The annual BC Tourism Educators Conference is being held at Okanagan College and as per usual much debate, discussion, and learning is happening around key themes in tourism education.
First up this morning was Tom Baum from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. For over 36 years Tom has been seeking to address the social and strategic contexts of low skills employment, with particular focus on hospitality and tourism.
Dr Baum challenged us, as a group, to look at the future of work in tourism, by first looking at the past. He suggested that for decades we have been engaged in the same conversation around tourism employment issues: lack of meaningful pay, low-skilled work, and high turnover – to name a few. He referenced a quote by George Orwell who was a pot-washer (plongeur) in the Paris of 1933: “a plongeur is a slave, and a wasted slave, doing stupid and largely unnecessary work.”
The fact is that in 2018, if we take a global view, there are still many “plongeurs” in our industry. Dr Baum cited reports including:
Global hotel chains – making London an unethical tourist destination through ‘standard industry practice’ by Unite the union Hotel Workers’ Branch: UnethicalLondon
Wage Theft in Australia – finding of the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey: WageTheft
The great training robbery – assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy: TrainingRobbery
No Holidays for the Burmese: NoHolidaysBurmese
Dr Baum shared findings from one document in particular, “Working for the Mouse”, in which they found that despite challenges including homelessness and extreme commutes, and yet over 85% of the workforce interviewed at Disneyland in Anaheim reported that they loved their jobs. You can read that report here: WorkingfortheMouse
So where to from here? Dr Baum’s presentation set the stage for a day of “backcasting” (also the process used by The Natural Step), in which we looked at the outcomes we want to produce in our institutions, communities, and industry.
For more information about Dr Baum’s work in this area, see https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/baumtomprof/.
What kind of tourism industry do you want to see in 25 years? How can you be a part of that vision? Post your thoughts in the comments below.