As various job sectors throughout the country struggle to attract workers, a recruitment fair Thursday aimed to support a vital part of Vermont's tourism-dependent economy.
Vermont saw the return of snow this week in certain high peaks, ratcheting up the urgency on the skiing and riding industry to get ahead of the staffing challenges that have taken bites out of many other businesses nationally.
"It's a really tight market right now," acknowledged J.J. Toland of Jay Peak Resort.
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It's among the Vermont destinations now offering higher starting wages than past years as well as signing and retention bonuses and access to resort amenities.
Jay is even converting a few hundred condo rooms into employee housing, Toland said, dropping the rents to what he described as "far lower than market rate," hoping that can attract more applicants to boost its seasonal numbers.
"We have 300, currently," Toland said of Jay's workforce lined up for the winter. "If we can get to 1,000, we'll feel good about the season."
A strong workforce in the skiing and riding industry is considered critical to Vermont, Ski Vermont said, because it is the nation's fourth-most-visited state for the sports, after Colorado, California and Utah. It is the top spot for skiing and riding on the East Coast, the trade group boasts, generating roughly $1.6 billion for the small state's economy.
The Vermont Department of Labor hosted a virtual job fair Thursday, giving job-seekers an opportunity to hear from industry representatives.
"So that they can bring on the best people and all the people that they need to make their season successful," Cindy Robillard of the Vermont Department of Labor said in the job fair's introduction.
In the online job fair, which had breakout rooms for different sections of the state, the industry ramped up recruiting for several resorts.
Ski Vermont pointed out it's not just lift-operators and groomers that are needed, but also folks in food service, mechanics, security personnel, parking attendants, electricians and more.
"It's a great environment to work in," said Molly Mahar, the president of Ski Vermont. "Not every position you're working with the public, necessarily. But a lot of them are guest-facing, so if you enjoy working with people, it would be a great choice for you."
On its website, Ski Vermont provides links to the job pages of resorts around the state.
Last week, Smugglers' Notch Resort told NECN it is ramping up for winter by aggressively hiring and offering pay raises, signing bonuses and other perks.
"We look forward to continuing that hiring process," said Brian Horton, the director of lodging at the resort. "We're getting a lot of great applicants right now."
At Jay, which is holding three of its own job fairs in the next month, the resort said staffing needs have it approaching the upcoming season differently than it once did.
"It's a blend of excitement and nervousness," Toland said.
That sentiment is surely shared by countless employers across the country, as they continue trying to figure out the changing American worker and how to woo them.