Lakehead University is developing a new course to train workers for the tourism and hospitality industries, in an effort to help with pandemic recovery efforts.
The Thunder Bay school announced on Dec. 16 it’s developing a short course with a long name — Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist/Northern Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist — which will be offered in English and in French starting next fall.
It will comprise six modules focused on the “essential elements” of the tourism industry.
When completed, students will receive an Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist (OPTIS) microcredential.
Those that complete a seventh module focused on the geographic region of Northern Ontario will also obtain a Northern Ontario Professional Tourism Specialist (NOPTIS) microcredential.
“The province’s tourism sector has become a driving force of economic activity across the province, with pre-pandemic tourism receipts reaching $36.1 billion, supporting more than 401,000 jobs,” said project lead Dr. Rhonda Koster, Lakehead’s deputy provost and vice-provost of teaching and learning, in a news release.
“In many situations, people hold responsibility for tourism within their community as part of their portfolio, but have little opportunity for formal training, therefore limiting the contribution tourism can make to the economy.”
To support the endeavour, Lakehead received $224,150 from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities as part of the Ontario Microcredentials Challenge Fund, which was announced in April.
Partnering with Lakehead University in the development of the program is Collège Boréal in Sudbury, which will offer the French version of the program, and industry associations including Destination Northern Ontario, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, La Société économique de l’Ontario, and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario.
“The pandemic has made the need for professionally trained people critical as tourism was hit first, the hardest and will take the longest to recover,” echoed David MacLachlan, the executive director for Destination Northern Ontario, in the release.
“I am so pleased that in collaboration with Lakehead University and Collège Boréal we will be able to bring the Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist microcredential program to those who work in or support Ontario’s tourism sector. Featuring a Northern Ontario component, this will help position our sector for post-pandemic growth and recovery.”
The program will be available starting in the September 2022.