Lakehead University has been awarded $224,150 by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities as part of the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund to develop micro-credentials focused on strengthening Ontario’s tourism industry.
Announced in April 2021, the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund is intended to accelerate the development of micro-credentials and expand program offerings. Ontario post-secondary institutions, working with local industry and employers were encouraged to submit a proposal to apply for funding to develop new or expand existing micro-credentials.
The Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist/Northern Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist micro-credential will consist of six modules that address the essential elements of the tourism industry.
Upon completion, learners will receive an Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist (OPTIS) micro-credential. Those that complete a seventh module focused on the geographic region of Northern Ontario will also obtain a Northern Ontario Professional Tourism Specialist (NOPTIS) micro-credential.
These specialist micro-credentials will be available in both English and French. The English will be delivered by Lakehead University and the French version by Collège Boréal.
Additional partners in the development of these micro-credentials include Destination Northern Ontario, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, La Société économique de l’Ontario, and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario.
“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 (Teaching & Learning).
“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,” she said.
“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.
“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 micro-credential 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,” he said.
“Both Lakehead’s Strategic and Academic Plans include commitments to develop innovative programming that meets emerging labour market needs,” said Dr. David Barnett, Provost and Vice-President (Academic).
“Given its complexity, the tourism industry’s recovery will depend on well trained professionals, and this micro-credential will assist these individuals in better supporting tourism’s recovery, move into new positions that are focused on tourism development, and will assist tourism operators to be better prepared to improve and expand their business.”
The Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist (OPTIS)/Northern Ontario Professional Tourism Industry Specialist (NOPTIS) will be available in the fall of 2022.