Intercultural Lens on World-class Service

Needs Addressed

The hospitality sector is a people-oriented industry where business success is measured in terms of customer satisfaction, enjoyment and safety. In Canada, the sector employs approximately 1.7 million people or 11 percent of the Canadian workforce. The Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) has promoted professionalism within the sector, implementing a range of hospitality and tourism related programs and services to promote employment opportunities, to help individuals obtain the necessary training and workplace experience needed to succeed and to provide national recognition for the skills, knowledge and experience that individuals acquire.

Integration challenges identified by the CTHRC include a lack of information and poor preparation prior to immigrating, weak proficiency in the language of work, necessary requirements for Canadian work experience, non-recognition of prior experience and qualifications and lack of appropriate social supports and networks to gain access to employment. Challenges identified by the CTHRC include cultural and communication style differences between staff members, employees from same culture group speaking in their own language in the workplace, some language barriers and hard to recruit internationally trained workers for management positions.

By 2025 severe labour shortages are forecast with immigration projected to account for 100% of net growth in the workforce. There is also forecast an increasing diversity of the tourism customer base with a 10% increase from 2009 to 2010 from emerging markets (China, India and South Korea) increasing the benefit of multilingual employees who can understand the needs of customers from various cultures.

In the hospitality sector, more than 20% of current employees are born outside of Canada and the number is rising. In the sector, some business organizations have leading strategies to integrate internationally trained workers; a majority do not have a diversity strategy or rate their ability to manage their workplace for diversity as average or below average. Strategies documented through case studies by the CTHRC focus heavily on recruitment and staffing with less strategies in practice related to integration and development of staff and retention. Services for staff training and development are typically outsourced by hospitality companies.


The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hospitality Institute is positioned as a source of ready-to-work, well trained hospitality workers for employers in the Edmonton region. As well as producing quality graduates, the Institute is forming ongoing relationships with employers to understand and respond to the shifting needs for skilled people in this sector. The results of this project supports a larger initiative underway within NorQuest and the Hospitality Institute to develop training and programming that supports immigrants, Indigenous workers and people with disabilities to be ready to work successfully in the hospitality industry in Alberta. This strategy underway by the Hospitality Institute is targeted to provide a sustainable supply of hospitality workers trained to engage in world-class service for Alberta-based hospitality employers.

Project Time Frame

September 2016 to May 2017

Project Deliverables

  1. Needs Assessment Tools (271k pdf)
  2. Intercultural Lens on Hospitality Model (507k pdf)
  3. Stakeholder Engagement – Results Presentation (381k pdf)
  4. Final Report (607k pdf)

Number of people Involved in the project:

47 people including:

  • 3 project team members
  • 8 industry stakeholders involved in consultation/data collection
  • 36 industry stakeholders in conference dissemination activities


  • 69% of stakeholders identified intercultural skills training as a positive component for hospitality worker preparation

Project Sponsors

Foreign Qualification Recognition, Government of Alberta

Project Lead:

Cheryl Whitelaw


Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hospitality Institute