Spreading the mantra of getting, keeping workers 

By Vivian Moreau

Snow began to fall on Whistler’s Upper Olympic run as a provincial tourism expert gave a pep talk to Whistler business owners on Wednesday.

Arlene Keis of tourism strategy consortium Go2 spoke at the monthly Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Garibaldi Lift Company, instilling the plan for how to get and attract workers to Whistler in a time of national and international labour shortage.

“The problem is a freight train, one of basic supply and demand,” Keis said.

Faced with net migration from across Canada to Alberta twice as high in the first half of this year as 2005, Keis said local employers have to cultivate Whistler as an attractive destination in which to arrive, to work, and to stay.

“You’re not going to get tens of resumes with front desk training like you did before,” Keis said. “Think about the staff that have aptitude, like the server you could bring up to speed.”

Keis said even small businesses have to expand their recruitment searches nationally.

“You have to cast your net further when there’s fewer fish.”

Whistler Chamber of Commerce President Louise Lundy outlined activities the business organization is undertaking to implement Keis’s strategies. The chamber recently hired Randall Butler, a recruitment specialist who has been visiting Lower Mainland schools to talk up Whistler opportunities. The chamber also hosted Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Monte Solberg in a closed-door session with local business leaders to talk about the benefits of extending the one-year holiday work visa to two years.

“And I bet Randall $100 that will be in place before the end of the year,” Lundy said.

Audience members heard the speakers’ messages.

Cathy Goddard, owner of Whistler Personnel Services, agreed with Keis, but said Whistler needs to do more to attract professionals to the resort.

“There’s a whole other demographic we’re not going after,” Goddard said. “It’s not just the kids we need, it’s the 24-64 that want to come to Whistler to stay.”

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