Kiwis urged to join snow workforce

Those seeking jobs are being urged to train and spend the winter in a mountain town like Ōhakune,...
Those seeking jobs are being urged to train and spend the winter in a mountain town like Ōhakune, Ōhau, Queenstown or Wānaka working in ski fields. Photo: RNZ
Ski field operators are urging New Zealanders to fill the gap left behind by international workers as the ski season rapidly approaches.

The industry estimates they will be short 1200 seasonal workers for the upcoming season as half the workforce is traditionally from overseas.

Last season, border closure prevented many businesses from getting key staff, leading to some ski areas being under-staffed and unable to open all parts of their business.

Cardrona & Treble Cone general manager Bridget Legnavsky said the industry was working together to create a workforce strategy.

The strategy is aiming to ensure ski fields are resourced appropriately, give New Zealanders opportunities for jobs and futureproof the workforce.

"We are collaborating as an industry to set ourselves up for the future where our domestic workforce becomes our fundamental workforce," she said.

"Right now, more than ever, we are trying to attract New Zealanders to come and work at the resorts sitting on their door-steps. An OE is a rite of passage for Kiwis and with the borders closed we're encouraging everyone to consider spending a winter in a mountain town like Ōhakune, Ōhau, Queenstown or Wānaka."

Ski areas around the country have started ramping up their efforts to recruit Kiwis.

That includes visiting schools and polytechs, running apprenticeship programmes, offering training and personal development initiatives, and emphasising recruitment in their winter marketing campaigns.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said his ski fields were bringing back an apprenticeship initiative they ran 15 years ago to entice people into the industry.

"The Rookie Programme is a professional pathway to becoming a Snowsports Instructor that allows anyone who is an advanced skier or snowboarder to gain an internationally recognised Level 1 qualification while working and earning. We'll cover the cost of the qualification so it's great way for Kiwis to get into a snowsports career," Anderson said.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts human resources manager Sarah Webster said they were proactively working to create employment opportunities through their cadet programmes and helping to introduce people to what roles were available.

"We have many examples in our team of people who came to work as a liftie or in the F&B department for a season and are now in senior leadership positions. We encourage people to come spend a season with us and potentially take that step into a career in the snowsports industry."

Mt Dobson's James Lazor said this season was a great opportunity for New Zealanders consider taking a break and looking to the smaller ski areas and club fields for work.

"Some of our smaller ski areas were sharing resources last year, and a few of the club fields couldn't open at all due to not being able to find people for certain positions," Lazor said.

"There are several highly skilled roles in the snowsports industry where a certain level of skill or certification is required as well as considerable experience gained over multiple winter seasons.

"We're encouraging Kiwis to consider stepping into these roles and gaining qualifications with us this winter. When the borders open the skills they gain will provide great opportunities to travel and work overseas when it's safe to do so."

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