Ski area operators are reporting a surge in applications from college students and locals as hiring strategies, operational plans shift in the pandemic.
By Jason Blevins | 25 August 2020
THE COLORADO SUN — … College kids are filling a critical gap for resort companies that need hundreds or even thousands of seasonal workers. And with President Donald Trump’s June 22 executive order that paused all foreign-worker visas to expand opportunities for American workers, the challenge of landing seasonal workers has grown for ski areas that have long struggled to fill positions in remote — and pricey — mountain communities.
“This is something that is keeping us all up at night right now. Trying to fill positions without an international pool of applicants is a little concerning, but we think we can replace them domestically,” said Jim Laing, the head of human resources for Aspen Skiing Co., which typically hires about 400 J-1 exchange visa workers every season. “Our applications from college kids are up pretty significantly over prior years. We are targeting college-age applicants, but they seem to be targeting us as well. That’s a bright light in this mess.”
Mountain and rural resorts for years have relied on a steady stream of J-1 exchange visa workers from South America, Australia and New Zealand to staff ski schools, hotels and mountain operations.
August and September are big months for resort companies as they ramp up for the coming ski season with job fairs in far-flung locales recruiting thousands of young workers who can come to the U.S. on the J-1 exchange visas. But the executive order upended those plans. […]