Job fair a mixed bag for employers seeking workers
Sky-Hi Daily News
A little before noon on Saturday, the attendance at the Grand County Job Fair reflected what most local employers already know all too well: It’s difficult to find quality employees in a mountain community.
Some booths had success. The U.S. Forest Service, for instance, had a list of 15 contacts as a result of the event, which was held at the SilverCreek Inn in Granby.
“We didn’t think we’d get a lot of people today, and we’ve already doubled the number we expected,” said Jeff Higley, crew supervisor for the Arapaho National Recreation area. “For two hours, that’s not bad.”
But others didn’t have the same results.
Jill Ryall, who ran the booth for Granby Ranch, had six people on her list at 12 p.m. As she surveyed the room, she didn’t seem surprised at the turnout.
“It’s a sign on how hard it is to find people,” Ryall said. “(And), we’re all vying for the same employee.”
Tracie and Jeff Martin, who own Dog Sleds Rides of Winter Park, said they had a low turnout at their booth, although a few stopped by to pick up information and drop off resumes. To find reliable, hard-working employees is a challenge for them, they admitted.
As a small company, they don’t offer benefits or a ski pass for first-time employees. Plus, it’s seasonal work, and it involves physical labor.
“You can’t be lazy,” Tracie said. “And a lot of people came (to the Valley) to ski, go out late at night . . .”
“It’s hard to find people who want to work hard anymore,” Jeff agreed. “I have a hard time finding people to work four days a week. I don’t know why.”
Many believe the challenge of finding employees in Grand County is related to the lack of public transportation. Without a public transit system to get employees from one side of the county to the other, employees can’t find ways to get to their jobs.
And most employees seeking jobs in higher priced areas ” such as the ski resorts ” can’t afford to live there. So either they need a convenient and safe way to get to their jobs, or they need low-cost housing ” two things the county has little of, noted Marianne Hayes, human resource manager for the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District.
“People think, ‘It’s a mountain community. Cheap living.’ That is not the case,” Hayes said. It’s expensive to live up here, and it’s a challenge . . . for all of us. Gas is high, and almost every job you have to drive to.”
Driving is a problem for Terez West, 31, who just moved to Parshall in September from Florida. Although she grew up in Grand County, she hasn’t lived there since she was 15 “she currently works at the 7-Eleven in Granby but needs a job that has weekends off so she can be with her two children. She also wants a job that’s close to home, so she can avoid driving during winter conditions, she said.
“I’m not used to driving here anymore,” West said. “I’ve thought about working in the (Fraser Valley), but driving in the winter, on those wide open parts (of the highway)…”
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