Toronto Pearson International Airport sits at the epicentre of Canada’s second-largest employment zone. Through its global connectedness and its role as a driver of economic opportunity, particularly for nearby communities, the airport plays a vital role in the Toronto Region’s economy. However, the airport suffers from a common challenge: attracting and retaining talent. This report details workforce trends and challenges seen at the airport and presents a set of considerations and recommendations that form a go-forward workforce strategy and playbook.
The recommendations presented in this report reflect the airport’s unique conditions. Toronto Pearson is a multi-union and multi-employer environment representing nearly 50,000 workers with diverse backgrounds and skillsets, and more than 400 employers spanning a variety of industries. It is also subject to a regulatory environment governed by all three levels of government, with varying impacts on its workforce.
Areas of Focus
The research conducted focuses on four major occupation groups at the airport: above the wing; below the wing; facilities cleaning and maintenance; and food & beverage and retail services. The analysis
demonstrates that the workforce challenges faced by workers at the airport today haven’t changed significantly since before the pandemic. In fact, some of the same challenges have been further exacerbated. Key challenges include labour shortages in specific occupations, barriers to career advancement, lack of transportation accessibility to the airport, need for training in high-demand skills, access to worker supports, and other airport-specific factors that make it more difficult to retain or attract talent.
To address the key challenges that we have highlighted, this report proposes a set of opportunities which build on the airport’s strengths and leverage existing relationships in the ecosystem. These strategic opportunities include:
- Invest in Partnerships, Shared Leadership, and Backbone Support;
- Build Connections and Opportunities Through Airport-wide Programs;
- Promote and Enable Pathways to Employment and Career Advancement;
- Invest in Skills Development for All;
- Enable a Supportive Environment for Workers; and
- Advance a Good Jobs Agenda.
Workers are the backbone of the airport’s success and central to Toronto Pearson’s aspirations to transform itself into the ‘airport of the future’. Now is an opportune moment for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) to double down on its leadership role in the community by developing and executing a renewed vision of workforce development at Toronto Pearson and boost the airport’s attractiveness as a place of work for residents across the region.