Vail Daily column: Addressing workforce challenges in our resort economy | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Addressing workforce challenges in our resort economy

Chris Romer
Vail Valley Partnership

The 2014-15 workforce study conducted by Vail Valley Economic Development (part of Vail Valley Partnership), shows business owners and managers continue to maintain confidence about the economy in general and the health of their own businesses. The predictions for the upcoming year show an optimistic outlook. The study of local businesses has been remarkably predictive of our local economy over the years and is reason for continued optimism.

That doesn't mean we don't have our challenges. Respondents were asked to rate their experience finding employees and, for the fourth year, there was an increase in the number of businesses that have vacancies. Those who said their experience recruiting was "terrible" or "poor" increased from 9 percent to 19 percent, while those who candidates "good" or "excellent" decreased from 54 percent to 42 percent.

The days of easy hiring seem to have peaked in 2010-11 at the height of the recession. In 2014-15, only 9 percent of businesses reported that they can fill positions in a week and 55 percent reported 2-4 weeks. Those that indicated 2-3 months rose to 29 percent and those reporting 4 or months increased to 7 percent.

The problem isn't only related to our seasonal workforce. Appropriate talent for technical, managerial or otherwise specialized positions often doesn't exist within our local workforce. Because of this, many firms across Eagle County are forced to recruit and hire individuals from outside the area. Outside recruitment and hiring comes with a number of risks including: increased timelines to fill positions, increased hiring costs and relocation expenses, and employee retention challenges.

Compounding these risks is the fact that professionals new to the area often bring along a husband, wife or partner who must find work. That can be difficult in our small trade area, but it is crucial to effective employee recruitment and retention.

It's not all doom and gloom. Vail Valley Economic Development, in collaboration with High Country Human Resources Association has created MyPartner Career Network to address some of these challenges. The network makes it easier for local businesses to recruit and retain great employees by helping find employment, when needed, for spouses or partners of prospective employees.

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Vail Valley Partnership and High Country Human Resources Association members are eligible to participate in MyPartner Career Network. The goal is to reduce time, cost and risks of hiring for Vail Valley companies. This program is free to VVP and HCHRA member-employers looking to hire for specialized positions that may be difficult to fill locally. To participate or learn more contact Jeremy Rietmann at jrietmann@visitvailvalley.com or 970-477-4012. Business contact information remains confidential.

You can also complete an online form at http://www.VailValley MeansBusiness.com and submit the resume of a spouse or partner of a new employee at your organization who will be relocating here or has relocated here in the past quarter.

The Vail Valley Partnership will deliver the resume to participating businesses. Participating businesses agree to a priority review of all resumes received through MyPartner Career Network and are strongly encouraged to make an introduction for the candidate to someone relevant within our community that might assist in their job search.

If your business finds it challenging to hire and retain quality employees for technical, managerial or otherwise specialized positions, MyPartner Career Network can help.

The MyPartner Career Network program page is found online at Vail Valley Economic Development's website, http://www.VailValleyMeansBusiness.com. Click "About Us," then "Our Services" and "MyPartner Career Network." For quick access, please visit http://bit.ly/1GUQCja.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.