Cody Chamber of Commerce To Train Teens for Summer Work
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 28, 2022
The Cody Country Chamber of Commerce is offering training for local teenagers to get them ready for another summer of high demand for seasonal workers.
Summer 2021 was a double-edged sword in Cody. What was possibly the busiest summer in recent memory was sullied by businesses struggling to stay open due to a lack of employees.
At the time, many Cody business owners blamed the pandemic for the employment issues. It wasn’t due to fear of the virus, but – in their opinion – the substantial federal unemployment benefits that made people “unwilling to work.”
According to Tina Hoebelheinrich, Executive Director of the Chamber, the problems of Summer 2021 started in 2018. That year, former President, Donald J. Trump tightened visa restrictions for foreign workers coming to the United States.
“We really started advocating for business two years ago. The issue started back under the Trump Administration where they pulled back the number of foreign workers that were allowed in.”
The Chamber of Commerce says last summer’s sparse workforce is part of a long-term problem that was only exacerbated by COVID-19 – and one that will continue into Summer 2022.
The H2B and J1 programs only a certain number of foreign workers to enter the U.S. every year. Workers who participated in the program for years didn’t count towards the annual quota. But that changed in 2018.
“When the changes came into effect, we had an extreme shortage of foreign workers that summer,” says Hoebelheinrich. “Hotels leaders who were expected to have foreign workers come; those programs knew their allocations were denied because they met the maximums.”
Furthermore, both programs are impacted by global conditions. With the ongoing invasion and refugee crisis in Ukraine, a country that has been a reliable source of H2B and J1 workers in the past may be completely cut off this summer.
And, even if workers can be found, Cody is still amid a “housing crisis.” Rentals of any kind are in short supply, and prohibitively expensive when they can be found.
There is still one reliable workforce to fill seasonal jobs, and the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce is helping to prepare them for Summer 2022.
On Friday, March 25, the Chamber announced Work-Ready Boot Camp on Facebook.
“Workforce is the #1 concern for Cody businesses in 2022. That’s why we are starting “Work-Ready Boot Camp”, a 6-week FREE program to train youth ages 14-18 in the soft skills they need to succeed in a summer job,” the post reads.
Cody’s youth were a very important source of relief for local businesses last summer. This year, they may be even more sought after depending on how hard it is to find and house seasonal workers in Summer 2022.