Why French ski resorts have a recruitment problem

The Local France
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Why French ski resorts have a recruitment problem
French ski resorts are finding it harder to attract seasonal workers. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

With early snows suggesting a promising winter’s skiing, resorts in France are gearing up for what they hope will be a bumper season – but they are still looking for workers to fill thousands of vacant positions.


The situation is less critical than last year, when 140,000 seasonal jobs, many in the winter sports sector, remained unfilled as the December 16th grand annual opening date loomed. 

READ ALSO First French ski reports open, but only at high altitude

The Association nationale des maires des stations de montagne (ANMSM) said that more than 80 percent of open positions have already been filled in time for the 2023/24 period.

Over the past two years, ski resorts have taken a more proactive approach to recruitment. Some councils are buying buildings to house employees, as in La Plagne (Savoie).


But, as well as accommodation, there is an additional issue for employers desperately seeking staff. Under new employment laws, seasonal workers in France must work a minimum of six months to start receiving chômage [unemployment benefits], compared to four months previously – the length of a standard winter seasonal contract.

As a result, many workers are holding off signing contracts in the hope of better pay and conditions, while the union Force Ouvrière this week held its first Assises des saisonniers, in Vanves (Hauts-de-Seine) – where it called for reduced social charges for seasonal workers and their employers, as well as better pay. 

One operator, Azureva, which employs workers in 13 winter resorts, has decided to offer longer contracts from the outset to attract staff. Even so, one in eight positions with the firm remain unfilled, particularly in hotel and catering prompting the company to attempt to adjust shift patterns.

Then there is the ongoing impact of Brexit - prior to the UK's exit from the EU, doing a ski season in France was a popular choice for young British people. However the employment strictures for non-EU citizens, who require a visa and a work permit, mean that many employers consider it simply too much hassle to hire Brits. 

READ ALSO 'So many barriers since Brexit': The French ski businesses no longer willing to hire Brits




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