Vail Daily column: Creating career pathways | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Creating career pathways

Dr. Kathryn Regjo
Valley Voices

Kathryn Regjo

In a recent column, I wrote about one of our valley's crown jewels of educational partnerships, the dual-enrollment program. Partnerships such as these can be both effective and sustainable for just about any agency looking for solutions.

Another problem that we are wrestling with in our valley is the increased pressure for affordable housing and filling the resort staffing needs every season.

Would-be employees are derailed as housing options are tight, and would-be employers find that the other benefits they can offer are often not enough to entice workers to stay. Potential answers to these problems have focused on looking at ways to grow our own talent for the resort industry within the valley, and to refocus our efforts on creating careers, not just jobs, within the resort industry, through a mix of both education and employment.

Most recently, Colorado Mountain College and several resort industry partners have taken steps to provide both education and employment opportunities that effectively grow our own workers and provide employment opportunities coupled with education, ultimately creating career pathways for individuals.

How do we do this? From the education side, within our culinary and resort management programs we have chosen to both embed a full-time employment opportunity within the curriculum, and structure the programs so that students remain employed full-time during the entire two years of study. This means students attend CMC year-round, as courses traditionally taken during a standard academic year are now taken over the summer.

From the resort perspective, our partners — the Sonnenalp, Vail Resorts, the Four Seasons Resort Vail and the Ritz Carlton — have agreed to be understanding of the educational scheduling needs of the student employee during the school year and ski season, and work with our faculty to ensure specific learning outcomes are embedded within the employees' work. Further, because students also become employees with our resort partners that have housing options, they may benefit from the housing subsidies available through the resorts, also included during the summer months.

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As it is our inaugural year of this partnership, our resort partners and the college are hopeful that combining our efforts produces long-term employment for the resorts, thereby reducing the cost of recruitment.

Further, we anticipate that it will provide a method for our local students to see a path to a meaningful career, not just a seasonal job, as combining both employment and education within the culinary and resort management industries is critical to career advancement.

This is a true partnership where we are effectively promoting one another to advance our workforce and working to be part of the solution to the complex challenges that uniquely impact the beautiful place we so gratefully call home.

Dr. Kathryn Regjo is the campus vice president of Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.