Top European Ski Resorts

November 6, 2011 by staff 

Top European Ski Resorts, Utah skiers this season are increasingly likely to interact with an instructor named Bob instead of Bjorn. Ski instructors and other skilled seasonal staff at Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort this season will be supplemented by imports from exotic locales like Michigan and Florida instead of the Nordic regions of Europe.

The change is the result of H2-B non-immigrant visa policies that have become increasingly stringent since 9/11, and because of a hunger for jobs in the domestic economy that has more Americans snapping up seasonal work.

“As soon as we open a job, people are jumping on those jobs,” said Kim Mayhew, human resources director at Deer Valley Resort. “Because of the domestic unemployment rates, people are coming to us from all around the country.”

Park City Mountain Resort hasn’t held a job fair for several years for the same reason. “We are very close to being fully staffed,” said Human Resource Director Chris Lampe. “Some of our departments leave a few spots open for those folks that come late and turn out to be the diamond in the rough.”

Deer Valley Resort hires 2,200 seasonal workers for the ski season. In 2007, when the U.S. economy was strong, Deer Valley could not fill all of the positions it needed, and was bringing in 300 ski instructors and others from foreign countries, Mayhew said. The resort also brought in 150 unskilled workers brokered through J1 cultural and educational exchange visas.

Deer Valley will still have about 100 workers clearing restaurant tables and doing other unskilled jobs who are in the country on a J1 visa. But for the first time in 15 years, the resort didn’t even petition the Labor Department for H2-B visas.

Mayhew said the Labor Department allows the resorts to sponsor foreign workers with H2-B visas for positions it can’t fill domestically — a pass for businesses that want to have an international flair in their workforce, or the gap-filler for operations just trying to fill jobs.

Right now, Deer Valley can fill all of its seasonal positions domestically. “For people with the ability to relocate, we’re getting them from Michigan, Florida — the whole eastern seaboard.”

The saddest thing about not participating in the H2-B program is the many skilled instructors that return to us year after year. Making that decision was hard.” — Kim Mayhew, Deer Valley

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