Snow jobs: In tight labor market, ski areas up the ante

It was once {that a} free ski go was sufficient to lure employees to seasonal jobs at mountain resorts. Not.

Within the present tight labor market, ski areas throughout the nation are having a troublesome time filling jobs, so that they’re upping the ante by boosting wages, offering extra housing and providing different perks to fill these jobs earlier than the snow flies.

New Hampshire’s Wildcat is providing a $1,000 bonus for brand spanking new snowmakers to come back on board, and Sunday River in Maine final yr elevated its hourly wage from $13 to $20 for that job. Utah’s Snowbird is increasing its pool van service to get staff to the mountain, and Sugarbush in Vermont, which has among the many lowest unemployment charges within the nation, is hiring extra overseas school college students.

“It is an unlimited problem for us,” Dave Byrd of the Nationwide Ski Areas Affiliation stated of the labor challenge.

As a result of ski resorts are by their nature in mountainous areas, they’re usually removed from cities from which to attract employees. And with the nationwide unemployment fee lately hitting the bottom stage in 50 years, potential employees would slightly have full-time jobs with advantages, stated Byrd, director of threat and regulatory affairs for the Colorado-based affiliation.

“We do not have a whole lot of ski areas which can be in shut proximity to main metropolitan areas. And even once we do, just like the ski areas in Salt Lake … they’re nonetheless struggling to seek out folks,” he stated.

The nation’s roughly 460 ski resorts rent about 100,000 seasonal employees every fall, he stated. Many depend on overseas visitor employees for five% to 10% of their labor, he stated.

“We’re not in a position to fill 100% of the roles we have now out there,” he stated, including that the J-1 visa program is crucial for the ski business.

This system is meant to present overseas employees who might be students, lecturers, camp counselors and au pairs coaching and expertise in these fields in america. The ski business makes use of about 8,000 J-1 visas, Byrd stated.

This yr, Vermont’s Sugarbush is bringing on greater than 100 overseas school college students by means of this system due to the problem in filling jobs. A number of years in the past, it had nobody on J-1 visas, spokesman John Bleh stated by electronic mail. Sugarbush has additionally been growing its worker housing over the previous a number of years, in response to Bleh.

Housing might be scarce, costly or each within the distant mountainous areas or resort cities, and on-line trip rental companies have added stress to the market by gobbling up a piece of the out there property, Byrd stated.

The housing crunch makes it troublesome to be ski bum these days.

“In case you wished to be ski bum and also you need to take a spot yr after you graduate school earlier than you go on to getting an actual job, that notion of the ski bum within the 1980s and 1990s, these are laborious to seek out, these folks, as a result of housing is so enormously difficult for us within the business,” Bryd stated.

And the free mountain go that comes with the job is now not sufficient of an incentive within the period of aggressive go applications that permit skiers and snowboarders to get a discount with out working on the resort, he stated.

On high of that, potential employees can now be picky and go for a year-round job with advantages.

“When House Depot and Goal are paying $13 an hour, and the ski space 20 minutes out of city — they have to match that,” Byrd stated. “They have to compete for that labor pool.”


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