Hiring Challenge: Ski epidemic, trying to fill workforce among student visa restrictions

An employee is protected by a plexiglass shield while processing a skier at the reopening of the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort, which closed in mid-March to help attempt to stop the spread of new coronoviruses.
Ap file photo

Tahoe ski resorts are navigating through an epidemic and a shortage of international workers and affordable housing as they hire staff for the winter season.

President Trump signed an executive order on June 22, temporarily halting the visas of many foreign employees, often including J-1 visas, to South American students arriving in North America during the summer recess.

As ski resorts make their plans to operate safely during the Coronavirus epidemic, requiring facemask, implementing social disturbances in lift lines and ending dine-in service, Trump’s order marks another hurdle in winter Is added: hiring enough temporary workers to fill the critical. Jobs such as operating chair lifts and serving food, among other positions.

Trump said that foreigners pose a threat to American workers as the country tries to strengthen its economy.

Is set to end at the end of the year, which, by order, states “American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including millions of aliens, who work for temporary jobs in the United States.” Enter America. “

Some industry leaders agree, even with Trump’s order, that it is difficult to fill seasonal jobs with domestic workers.

“A large part of the reason – and the same is true during COVID – is that most Americans want a year-round job. They don’t want a revolving-door-type job,” Dave, director of risk and regulatory affairs at the National Ski Area Association Bird said.

Byrd said between 7,000 and 8,000 J-1 workers fill jobs every winter in many of the country’s 470 ski areas. Another 1,000 to 2,000 workers arrive at American resorts on H-2B visas, which are also forbidden by Trump’s order. Overall, foreign guest workers make up between 5% and 10% of the workforce at US ski resorts, according to Bird, who calls it “a significant amount”.

According to the NSAA report released in July, more than half of the 202 American ski resorts said they had trouble hiring a full workforce during the 2019–2020 winter season, and moved 44 jobs on average. The report stated that 27% of ski areas were deemed hot in the summer, and on average 21 jobs were lost.

Many seasonal jobs do not offer benefits such as health insurance or retirement plans, Berth said, and recruiting domestic workers is even more difficult because ski resorts are often in rural areas with expensive housing.

“Of course, at Western Destination Resorts, finding fancy workers because of the cost of housing in fancy destination ski veins – Well, Crested Butte, Telluride, Taos, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Sun Valley, Lake Tahio, is a huge challenge for us. is.” ” he said.

In Sierra-et-Tahoe on Tahoe’s South Shore, international employees make up less than 10% of employees, Sahara spokesman Sarah Sherman said.

“Hiring is a process that we go through every fall, although this year we are hiring everyone and losing the element of bringing international workers through the J1 program,” Sherman said. “We value the cultural exchange that the program provides to the Sierra and the community, but quickly adapt to these changes.”

Sherman said the resort has people from different backgrounds and some of the new people who want to work outside.

“We have been fortunate to receive many new applicants,” she said. “We are seeing people apply from many different backgrounds – college students who have just graduated, who want to make a career change, there are some who are newly unemployed. People feel they have to stay out There is a renewed interest in jobs for.

A major challenge for the Sierra, and the Lake Tahoe Basin, is the lack of affordable housing. The resort has a housing incentive program, “Rental Rewards”, where they trade lift tickets for homeowners to hire Sierra workers.

“When we’re taking a lot of interest in the posts, we’re concerned about the people who are expected to move here to work,” Oerman said. “With this in mind, Sierra is continuing its Housing Incentive Program that is ready to let employees rent their homes. When they hire an employee through the program, the homeowners And landlords can participate. “

Diamond Peak Ski Resort is just starting its big hiring push. They hosted a winter job fair at their base lodge on Wednesday from 3: 30–5: 30 pm, where potential employees needed to show up with “masked smiles” and “air-fives”.

The North Shore Mountains have fewer employees than the J-1 majors such as Valley Resorts, which owns Kirkwood and Haveli mountain resorts in the US and 33 resorts in Tahoe, Northstar California.

Diamond Peak Marketing said, “Although we traditionally do not hire many J-1 employees, as we have hired 20-25 in large resorts around the Tahoe Basin, we are looking for additional local employees will do.” Director Paul Raymore. “While we don’t yet know what this year will bring, the ski season is slated for, and continues to be, one of the biggest challenges the resort faces. We’ll see one thrown into the mix What the global epidemic does for hiring. It should be an interesting year to be sure. “

Vail Resorts has historically relied on foreign workers and is recruiting more aggressively in local communities for the upcoming season and is seeing some interest among college students who have more resilience because of the epidemic Learning remotely or taking a gap year.

“We have already accelerated recruitment efforts in the winter season and are happy with the results so far.” Huff noted that Well Resorts could pursue a “limited number” of foreign employees if and when restrictions are lifted to help the remainder of the season.

The NSAA and ski resorts around the country were monitoring two federal lawsuits challenging Trump’s order – one in Washington DC and the other in the Northern District of California. The DC judge had banned Trump’s J-1 and H-2B visas, so now the ski industry is raising its hopes on the California judge’s direction.

For more information about Sierra Jobs, email hr @ passoffice @ sierraattahoe.com. Applications are available at https://www.sierraattahoe.com/employment/.

For more information about jobs at Diamond Peak, visit http://www.diamondpeak.com Or call 775-832-1177.

For information about Vail Resorts jobs go to https://jobs.vailresortscareers.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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