Skico ups starting wages as part of $3M payroll investments

Aspen Skiing Co. also investing $300k in local child care programs

Aspen Highlands liftie Michael Johnson, left, helps skiers onto the Thunderbowl Lift on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

New employees at Aspen Skiing Co. this winter will have a beginning wage of $17 and others already on the payroll likely will see increases, company officials said Friday while announcing their $3 million investment in its payroll.

In 2019, Skico raised its starting pay to $15, which was $3.90 more than the minimum wage at the time. Colorado’s current minimum wage is $12.32 ($9.30 for tipped employees), so this latest Skico raise is $4.68 more than the current state wage. Colorado’s minimum wage in 2022 goes to $12.56 starting Jan. 1.

Skico also is investing $300,000 over the next three years in local child care programs. Half of that money will go to the Blue Lake Preschool, which is adding two classrooms, and the funds will help support teacher retention and student scholarships, according to Friday’s announcement. The other $150,000 will be for a program with the nonprofit Valley Settlement, which supports immigrant families, to train and certify child care providers in the Latino community.

Valley Settlement will hire a child care trainer to work with family, friends and neighborhood providers to improve the academic, socio-emotional, safety and nutritional quality of care and offer an option for certification, according to Hannah Berman, who is a senior manager in Skico’s Sustainability and Philanthropy department. After completing the training, some providers will be able to take on more kids given new classroom management skills and certification.

The latest announcements come as Skico works on the dramatic changes in employee cost of living and livability in the Roaring Fork Valley. Skico has increased its workforce housing to 1,000 beds. There are day care workers who live in The Hub at Willits, a new Skico employee housing complex with 150 beds that opened in May.

“It is vital that we continue to invest in our employees, and this is just one step along that path,” Mike Kaplan, President and CEO, said in Friday’s announcement. “We will continue to focus on our people, implementing initiatives around pay, housing, transportation, child care and overall cost of living in our communities.”

Skico also said it is raising its starting pay to $50,000 for salaried employees, and other second-, third- and fourth-year employees likely will see hourly-pay increases, according to the news release.

“Recent events have magnified the issues that all of our mountain communities face around housing and affordability,” Kaplan said in the news release. “This is not a one-and-done solution. This is just one of many initiatives we will undertake in the coming months and years to address these issues.”

There will be a Skico job fair Tuesday at the Hub at Willits (300 Robinson St .) in the Willits Town center from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.