Updated: Mar 5
Working ski seasons were some of the best years of my life. The chance to live and work in a foreign country, ski almost every day and earn money whilst doing it was the best experience any young person can have. However, the prospect of shrinking job opportunities with complicated and potentially expensive visa’s this could be devastating to the community of seasonal workers who travel to Europe every year.
I am from the North East of England and at the age of 10 my parents took me for my first ski holiday to the far-off resort of Glenshee in Scotland. I was a minor celebrity when I got back in my class, I was one of the few kids who had ever been skiing before, I felt as cool as any 10-year-old could when describing wearing ski goggles and going incredibly fast down a ski slope. Tall tales aside I realise now how lucky I was, a few years later we got out first trip abroad to the alps going to Italy and from then on, I realised a bit of my heart belonged to the mountains.
The opportunity to ski from a young age is something I took for granted for many years. Especially so in my first season. As the years went by and the more seasons I worked, the more I realised that, for many of my co-workers this was their first ever experience of the mountains never mind snow sports. They never went on family ski holidays and never joined the school ski trip for the simple reason their parents couldn’t afford it.
Working a season in the ski resorts of Europe gave them their first experience of the mountains and they got to share in the sport and cultures I love. As seasonaires we pride ourselves on the fact it doesn’t matter your age, background or race we are all united by our love of travel and adventure as well as a willingness to work hard.
With the end of free movement that puts this inclusive atmosphere in jeopardy. Whilst our attitudes will hopefully not change, the putting up of barriers of visa’s and permits creates significant issues for seasonal workers from less affluent backgrounds.
A visa to work in some European countries is around £50 just for submitting the applications and most importantly after applying receiving a visa is not guaranteed. For a number of countries like France their application process requires the submission of the applications in person at their embassy.
So for someone like myself in the North East of England my visa application will cost me the cost of a visa and a train ticket meaning I could be paying £150 for a visa which is not guaranteed after completing my application. Many cannot risk throwing away £150 on a dream of working a ski season and as a result many seasonaires from less affluent backgrounds may choose not to apply.
Pricing out seasonaires from less affluent background will be a devastating loss to the whole ski industry on a cultural level. We run the risk of skiing regressing back to the years of the 70’s and 80’s of it being a pursuit solely reserved for those from money and making it off limits to those without.
There needs to be an alternative from the current procedure of visa application for seasonal workers but that can only be done by both the UK and EU governments making changes to the current trade deal. Write to your MP and tell them of the risk to the 25,000 British seasonal workers and the increased impact to young people from less affluent backgrounds.
Please share your stories of how you are finding your search for employment for next season and tell us any of your concerns for the future. Share your story.