Service jobs are going unfilled in Whistler. That has Kirin Pal and Jodi Annett of Whistler Employment Resource Centre concerned.
"We have 115 jobs listed at the moment, most of them in sales and retail," said Pal. "Though there are an average of about 36 people in the centre daily, only a few are looking for employment. Most of the job seekers are new arrivals."
While visits to the centre are topping 1,000 per month, the job cards just are not moving off the board.
"From what we have seen at WERC this year so far, the number of transient workers that typically are around at this time of year has decreased," said Annett.
Annett declined to provide any analysis as to why the situation currently exists, saying she had expressed what she wanted to within the press release that WERC sent out last week.
Cathy Goddard, owner/operator of Whistler Personnel Solutions, calling from her vacation in Florida, expressed her belief that there is a combination of factors keeping seasonal workers from snapping up the jobs.
"The last two or three years this has been happening and I think it comes down to the issue of affordability," said Goddard.
While she applauds recent efforts to attract tourists back to the resort, she believes that the community must collectively make initiatives to bring staff to Whistler.
"Whats happened over the past few years is that Whistler has rested on its laurels a little bit. High costs and people struggling to get accommodation has put us in a bad position," said Goddard.
She also points out the seasonal workers who choose to return annually belong to a small community of winter sports enthusiasts. Negative word-of-mouth can have a dramatic effect on those who might otherwise choose to come to Whistler.
"People say to each other, You have to prepared to live with other people, you have to be prepared to live with a lot of people, you have to be prepared not to work, well, word gets out," she said.
She further notes that part of the appeal for seasonal workers is the fun aspect of living in Whistler. Make it impossible for them to afford to take part in these activities and it becomes just another service job.
"I think we need to figure out affordability," she said, recognizing that property owners have high mortgages and taxes in the community. "But I think we have created a situation where people cant afford to live here and thats scary."
Goddard believes its imperative that Whistler match current marketing initiatives with creative strategies to get workers to come here.
"If we get the tourists here and theyre not being serviced, its not going to do us any good," she stated. "I believe our service standards are really low. And why is that? Is it that people get here and their experience as seasonal workers isnt that great? That carries through."
Goddard commends the Chamber of Commerce for implementing programs that can help with this issue, but sees it as an ongoing matter thats essential to the economic health of the resort.
"People have to be trained properly, they have to be valued, they have to be welcomed appropriately, and maybe weve fallen down on that."