Jobs for British Ski Instructors & Resort Staff Under Threat

Thousands of ski workers who thought they would be able to work in the EU after the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December are being told that may not now be the case.

British ski instructors could be barred from travelling to work in European Union countries unless they achieve the highest qualification, Level 4, before 1st January.

This is because the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has recently announced it is withdrawing from the scheme that allows for mutual recognition of qualifications.

Unless the decision is reversed, or an EU-UK deal is struck before the deadline, it is likely that the only way instructors will be eligible to work is if they already have the top Level 4 qualification.

Many Britons are currently training in the Alps for their ‘Eurotest’, a tough speed challenge that must be met to complete Level 4.

One is PlanetSKI reader Rob Greatbach, who is in Zermatt.

He has passed all the different elements of his British Association of Snowsport Instructors Level 4 exam except the Eurotest.

He must complete a Giant Slalom within 19% of the time it would take the World number one.

Rob Greatbach training  for the Eurotest in Zermatt

Rob, whose aim is to teach in the French resort of Tignes, has just two chances left in 2020, with Eurotests scheduled in Alpe d’Huez in France on 14th and Pila in Italy on 21st December.

He and his fellow would-be instructors are hoping the tests do not become casualties of  Covid-19 or a lack of snow. One, scheduled for 30th November in Carezza in the Italian Dolomites has already been cancelled.

“All I have got to do is this one last thing,” Rob told PlanetSKI.

“We don’t really know what the situation is going to be on January 1st. There is at least the theoretical possibility that if you haven’t got the Eurotest by January 1st, you won’t be able to get it. But you can only control the controllables and it’s out of our hands.

“There are so many unknowns.  Now it’s less than six weeks till we leave and we still don’t know what the rules of the game are.

“You have to be philosophical, say what will be will be,  and do everything in your power to get it done. You might not get another chance or you might.  You just don’t know.”

Rob Greatbach

Rob says he believes it may still be possible to get EU recognition for ski instructor qualifications after 1st January, but getting a work visa as a British passport holder is another matter.

The British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) is hoping to persuade the UK government to restore the mutual recognition agreement.

“The UK Government is still negotiating a deal and we still don’t know if mutual recognition of qualifications will feature in it, or indeed if there’s a deal going to be made at all, the head of BASI, Jim Lister, said in a statement provided to PlanetSKI.

“If our worse fears become true and the delegated act is revoked, we may lose our access to the Common Training Test agreement. Without it, despite the assurances of the UK government, there will be no formal & legal mechanism in place to ensure our qualification, for so long the gold standard and literally written into EU law, will continue to be recognised.

“For many of us, a winter break in the alpine resorts being taught by a young British ski instructor has become a right of passage; and this is equally something which applies to those working and training as snowsport instructors themselves.

“Losing recognition of qualifications will wreck the careers and travel plans of thousands of young Britons, with future generations of British instructors unable to work there independently.

“The UK Government could easily make this issue go away by confirming that UK ski instructors will have ongoing access to the Common Training Test scheme and that EU member states will continue to legally recognise our qualifications as they have before.

“All of the above will be meaningless for all those hoping for a career in snowsports if the UK government fails to present a pragmatic approach to mobility and working rights for seasonal workers, however.”

Another recent development has put the future of thousands of British seasonal workers, such as chalet hosts, resort managers, nannies, hotel and bar staff, at risk.

It had looked as if they would be allowed to work the whole ski season, despite Brexit.

But that relied on them being in place and working in an EU country before 1st January.

Several UK ski tour operators have already said they will not be offering holidays this side of Christmas due to the Covid-19 situation and have not yet sent staff to resort. More holiday companies are expected to follow.

PlanetSKI understands that discussions are continuing to see if offers of employment, or contracts to start work later in the season that are signed before the deadline will be acceptable.

There is some optimism a deal could be struck, but with less than six weeks to the deadline, time is running out to resolve the issue.

“All the uncertainty about Brexit has been a nightmare. And now the pandemic?” Diane Palumbo of the group Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBiT) said to PlanetSKI.

Seasonal Businesses in Travel

“We had found a way forward with our French partners that would have ensured all our teams out in France before the end of December would have been able to work this season. Now it looks as if infection rates in France are going to put paid to a Christmas or New Year ski holiday, and we have to get our heads together again to work out how and when it will be safe to open and get our teams ready to receive guests.

“There is no doubt though that capacity in the market will be seriously reduced and it is an evolving situation.

“The bigger issue is longer term however. The Government have it within their grasp right now to sign a deal that ensures the tens of thousands of jobs and training opportunities for young people are preserved and that these jobs and indeed skiing in general do not revert to being the preserve of the wealthy.

“That is why we started our petition Save Our Travel Jobs and if this means anything to you, please sign!”

The SBiT petition had attracted more than 10,000 signatures by Tuesday (24th November).

It is calling for special arrangements for 18-34 year-olds who make up the bulk of the seasonal workforce and are being hardest hit when it comes to job losses as a result of Covid-19.

Seasonal ski workers in the Alps

“We call on Boris Johnson to please let this wonderful practice continue by agreeing with our European partners that young people should be able to work for short periods across Europe without the need for Visas or work permits,” the petition states.