How will Whistler tackle its labor shortage?


“Jobs First” program has so far connected over 140 workers with resort employers

New program helps connect Whistler employers with desperately needed front-line staff.

The Jobs First program, launched by Joel Chevalier of Culinary Recruitment International in partnership with Libby Law of SWAP Canada, has so far helped connect 141 workers with employers at the station.

Most are from Germany, Chevalier said, but the program has also recruited workers from New Zealand, Chile and the United Kingdom.

“Our original plan was that we thought we would be able to place 50 people and have enough applicants to do it, and we are over 180 people. [applicants]”said Chevalier.

“So we already have a lot of requests from employers and candidates to do something for the spring and summer of 2022.”

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government imposed a new requirement for working holiday visa holders to have a job offer in place before arriving in Canada, which the program Jobs First helps them get it.

This requirement was lifted on September 6, “but that still doesn’t mean that there will be a great flood of candidates coming in,” Chevalier said.

“And so this program has really met a need for a lot of employers who need to be assured that people are actually going to show up.”

To ensure good results for workers, Chevalier said the program only works with known employers who provide housing for staff.

“The employers we work with already have salary structures, so we know people have jobs that are good jobs,” he said, adding that most of the jobs are in housekeeping or cleaning. dishes.

Once in Canada, workers receive a one-year working holiday visa permit and are free to explore their options if they wish.

“I talk to employers about it, that it’s my job to get you candidates, and it’s your job to keep them happy and keep them with you,” Chevalier said, adding that with the shortage Current workforce in Canada, many employers are seeing the importance of employment programs.

“And employers are certainly stepping up and doing more creative things to keep people, which is pretty cool.”

So far, the program has found workers for 17 different local businesses (as well as a small handful in Banff, Jasper and elsewhere), including several hotels and restaurants.

“This program has certainly been very helpful in attracting a lot of students from Germany and beyond, so yes, it has been of great help,” said Saad Hasan, president of the Whistler Hotel Association.

“Throughout our resort I think it will be of great help, not only for hotels but also for other businesses as I see Joel shares staff with other restaurants as well.”

Local restaurant Hunter Gather has been able to add five new hires through the program, all of whom are expected to land at the resort in the fall, said Alistair Cray, general manager of parent company Whistler Cooks.

“The key element is that it is normally hires that [are] the front line junior staff who normally arrive with a low level of skills that we are able to train and adapt to our business, and so yes, for us that fills a void that would have been there, ”Cray said .

With this in mind, the shortage of skilled labor will be more difficult to fill, he added.

“We continue to be proactive, we continue to train ourselves… This is not a new challenge for the city; this is something we have all worked with for many years, and we will continue to look for creative solutions, ”he said.

“I think in terms of light at the end of the tunnel, there is no end point. It’s an evolution, isn’t it? And the business will evolve to match our ability and ability to produce big events, great food, great service, and so we have to keep doing that. “

For its part, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce has collaborated with Tourism Whistler (TW) on a recruiting video that is expected to launch shortly, CEO Melissa Pace said, and other initiatives are also underway.

“We are working with TW on a few pieces,” she said. “Stay tuned.”

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