Travel and tourism faces a growing talent shortage without urgent action to address it by governments and industry.
Research on behalf of the WTTC by Oxford Economics suggests the industry could suffer a shortfall of 14 million jobs or 4% of the total projected workforce by 2014.
The Oxford Economics study, published in February, looked at 46 countries which account for more than 80% of world travel and tourism employment and GDP.
It identified a "serious shortage" of people and skills to meet projected growth in the sector over the next 10 years.
Oxford Economics concluded that 37 of the 46 countries showed a talent "deficit" or "shortage", when only six of the 46 showed a deficit for the economy overall.
It found "talent labour shortages" where many hard-to-fill vacancies go permanently unfilled; "talent vacancies" which push up pay rates; "talent skill gaps" where positions are filled by under-qualified or inexperienced staff; "talent gaps" where migrant labour substitutes for a shortage of local labour; and "transient labour" which can limit delivery of a high-quality visitor experience.
The report also noted negative consequences where there is an "excess supply of travel and tourism talent" which leads to downward pressure on wages and restricts opportunities.
It found: "The sector has a below economy average proportion of its workforce employed in higher skilled professional occupations.
"The travel and tourism workforce is also younger and more female-orientated versus the global economy average.
"In addition, a high share of the workforce is part time, casual and seasonal. The sector is more likely to recruit foreign workers compared to the economy average."
Over half the travel and tourism companies in the WTTC member survey described the experience of hiring staff as "difficult".
In an introduction to the report, WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill warned: "Travel and tourism's human capital challenges are significantly higher than those faced in other sectors.
"The situation is more pressing at the lower educational attainment levels, i.e. unskilled labour, and the impacts will hit in the next five years. This is a problem which needs to be addressed now.
"WTTC urges the industry - both public and private sector - to act now to address the anticipated talent shortage."
Scowsill said: "When I speak to leaders of the world's travel and tourism companies, it is clear that the biggest challenge to growth is the supply and retention of talent across all levels of their businesses.
"We need the right policies, programmes and partnerships in place to ensure the workforce of the future knows about the opportunities in our sector and has the appropriate skills and knowledge."
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