Valleyfair, Canterbury Park Struggle To Find Summer Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Students looking for that summer job may want to consider the west metro.

Two of the largest summer employers are facing challenges in bringing in a full staff.

Low unemployment has places like Valleyfair and Canterbury Park looking for innovative ways to attract potential employees.

The rides are in constant motion at Valleyfair, even on a dreary day. Customers want that summer thrill, which means the park must find the staff to keep it going.

“It is a competitive job market,” said Jason Spinosa, Valleyfair’s human resources director. “We are all trying to find the same person.”

Part of the hiring challenge is the industrial growth near Shakopee and Prior Lake that has cut into the talent pool. Companies like Shutterfly and Amazon have set up massive distribution centers in the area.

valleyfair ride worker Valleyfair, Canterbury Park Struggle To Find Summer Staff

(credit: CBS)

“The pool gets smaller and smaller,” Spinosa said.

Valleyfair is taking a creative approach to attract summer help with flexible schedules and incentives, like business internship seminars for all employees.

“You can be a ride operator and still be part of our internship project,” Spinosa said.

A similar situation is playing out at nearby Canterbury Park.

“There are several areas that we’re still hiring for,” said Becky Cameron, Canterbury Park’s senior human resources manager.

The race track currently has 15 to 30 openings, ranging from custodial work to bartenders. There are anywhere from three to five positions available within each opening.

Group fundraising is helping to fill the need in the meantime.

“Community groups that are looking to raise funds for maybe the local high school, their band or choir,” Cameron said. “So we bring in those groups to kind of work in the food stands or help with promotions, even helping in guest services area.”

The park is also expanding its potential pool of employees by recruiting retirees and teens as young as 14.

Canterbury is also implementing flexible scheduling to adhere to child labor laws, and offering incentives to all workers who may have other obligations.

“I think as the Baby Boomer generation exits and we don’t have as many coming through the workforce, I think we’re going to struggle and we have to come up with unique ways, being more flexible, streamlining processes and coming up with different avenues to fulfill staffing need,” Cameron said.

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