British Columbia. In preparing to welcome the world to this event, there is a high demand for skilled and semi-skilled workers in the construction and hospitality industries.The next winter Olympics will be hosted by Vancouver and Whistler in
Municipal officials of the Whistler community estimate that at any given time, the resort town is 500 workers short of full employment. To deal with this persistent labour shortage and to prepare for increasing construction and tourism labour market demands, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce recently held a seminar to teach business leaders about hiring foreign workers.
A popular vacation destination, many of Whistler’s foreign workers are on working holiday visas. The working holiday visa program is made up of bilateral agreements with Commonwealth countries and is designed to be a cultural exchange. Much of this workforce is therefore composed of Australians and British who spend the year working, traveling, and enjoying the resort community life. Whistler business leaders have been lobbying the federal government to extend the timeframe of the program but have been unsuccessful because the working holiday visa program is relatively small and requires negotiations with participating countries.
The seminar suggested that working holiday visas are not the solution to Whistler’s labour shortage and recommended student work permits and spousal work permits as relatively untapped resources. Foreign students in Vancouver with off-campus work permits can take a semester off to work in Whistler. The spouses of foreign students and skilled workers can also obtain open work permits to join the workforce in Whistler.