Business Monday: Small Aspen labor pool for job fair season
It’s that time of the year to not only think about dusting off the skis and snowboards, but the job resume as well.
The Limelight Hotel in Snowmass, which debuts this winter, kicked off the job-fair season last week, and it continues from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Willow Creek Bistro at Aspen Highlands, where the Ritz-Carlton Club will try to fill spots including consierge, spa attendant, assistant restaurant manager, cook, dishwasher and other positions.
The jobs fairs come at a time when Aspen-area employers are challenged to fill their staffs. Just on The Aspen Times website, openings are being advertised at such service and retail establishments as Hotel Jerome, Wild Fig restaurant, Gorsuch, The Gant, White House Tavern, Butcher’s Block and others.
The heightened competition for employees in Aspen can mean intensified recruiting efforts.
“Job fairs or no job fairs, we really have to get people to concentrate on leaving their current jobs to work for us,” said Caleb Sample, Skico’s director of recruiting.
Pitkin County’s not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July was 2.7 percent and June posted a 3.2 percent rate, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Colorado’s unemployment rate was 2.8 percent in July and 2.7 percent in June.
The obvious challenge for Aspen employers is the dearth of available housing for workers in the service industry.
“There’s just nothing out there,” said an Aspen restaurateur who declined to be identified.
Other factors include an aging, retirement-bound population, the health of the economy and inertia in the workforce, Sample noted.
“You’re having a smaller labor pool and more people needing to commute,” he said.
Skico hires about 1,200 employees each winter, Sample said. As of Friday, it had 178 openings, and “that changes on a daily basis,” he said.
“For our lift-attendant position we only have one posting, but of course we’ll need to hire upwards of 250 people for that position,” he said.
Skico also has raised its minimum wage to $13.50 this winter from $12 in winter 2017-18. The state’s minimum wage is $10.20 an hour.
The Limelight Hotel in Snowmass, which is owned by Skico, is trying to fill 60 positions, including some year-round jobs, according to a statement for its job fair held last week. Skico also is hiring at the Snowmass Mountain Club.
Skico’s first job fair is scheduled 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 27; the second one is set 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 25. Both job fairs will be held at Bumps Restaurant at the base of Buttermilk ski area.
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“Because of the pandemic, I mean, it’s like, people are even more excited, — they’re like, ‘alright, give me five boxes instead of two,’” said Heather Merritt Gentry, the troop leader for Aspen Girl Scout Brownie Troop 15014.