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Work on the ski slopes

Work on the ski slopes
There are about 10,000 winter season jobs going in the French Alps alone

Jobs on the slopes mean you can get paid while enjoying all the action in the snow!

Winter might seem an age away, but if you're dreaming of spending a few months cruising down the slopes or being the first to carve on that fresh powder while pulling the odd pint or two in your spare time, recruitment for the coming season is happening now.

If you're over here with an EU passport then you're laughing. There are about 10,000 winter season jobs going in the French Alps alone. Italy, Spain, Austria and even Bulgaria beckon too, especially if you've got the language skills. But what about the rest of us? Not having an EU passport does make things more difficult, but certainly not impossible.

Vicky Higgs, recruitment manager at ski resort workers recruitment company Natives, advises not to go for work in the Alps without the relevant paperwork.

"There's been a big crackdown on illegal workers in France recently," she explains.

"Employers can end up facing a jail sentence, so they won't risk it.

"But this doesn't mean you can't work in Europe. Higgs says that although most British companies insist on an EU passport, some smaller companies just require a working visa for the relevant country.

And if you already have a working visa (the French process isn't too hard, but it does require your passport to be sent back to your home country) you can just head out there yourself and look for casual work.

There's also plenty of work across the Atlantic. Canada and the US have several advantages over European resorts, among them less crowding and big investment in facilities and lifts.

For Aussies there's great news, with Canada's visa laws changing recently so there's no limit to how many working holiday visas are issued to Australians, or the number of times they can apply.

New Zealanders still have visa quotas to contend with, but thousands are still left this year.

For South Africans, the working holiday programme is restricted to students or recent graduates.

The USA has no working holiday agreement with any countries, but work experience programmes are in place for students of all nationalities. If your student days are long gone you can still get a work visa, but you need a job first. Bryan Bissell operates Snovine, a ski recruitment company aimed specifically at finding placements in North America.

"We are able to find seasonal jobs and secure visas for all nationalities," he says, "and there's no upper age limit."

See www.natives.co.uk and www.snovine.com. For Canadian visas see www.whpcanada.org.au or geo.international.gc.ca/asia/newzealand/. For work experience programmes in the US and Canada see www.ccusa.com.

Having a (snow) ball

"Don't hold back when you get there," is Joe Toohey's advice for anyone thinking about working at a northern hemisphere ski resort. Toohey, originally from Tamworth in northern NSW, spent the 2005-06 season as a liftie in Vermont (in north-east US) and loved the snowboarding and partying he got to do in his spare time.

"It was great fun. It's not really that hard work, they're all pretty laid-back on the snow. The managers were quite good, they realise you will be partying a lot."

Toohey said the atmosphere at the resort was a bit like the first year of university, with a small community of about 100 workers from around the world, including lots of Aussies, Kiwis and Saffas.

His job and visa were organised by Snovine recruitment, and accommodation was arranged by the resort. Although he didn't earn much, he did save enough to get back to London and set up again in the UK.

"You've got to go over realising you won't save a ton of money. It's more about the chance to have fun and go snowboarding, which you wouldn't normally get the opportunity to do."


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