International Workforce Panel at November Board Meeting

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Finding employees, specifically in the tourism industry, has been a challenge in the APEX region. This issue has been compounded by the actions of the federal government to limit programs that provide temporary international workers.

In November, APEX hosted an international workforce panel at the Board of Directors meeting to help investor-members understand the benefits and nuances of leveraging international workers. The panel, moderated by Tamara Lowney, APEX Senior Business Developer, included Loan Huynh, with Fredrikson & Byron, Bettina Milosz, an intern with APEX and an international student, Cyndy Reno, with Island Investments, and Stacie Tollaksen, with Intrax.

A variety of topics were discussed, including:

  • The H-2B Visa program through the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides workers a temporary period of up to 10 months at a time, or a one-time period of three years. 
  • The J-1 Visa program through the Department of State, which is considered a cultural exchange experience. While there are limitations on usage of the visa in comparison to the H-2B, this program is also valuable to businesses with seasonal workforce needs.
  • The cultural challenges international students and workers face when working in the region. Specifically, small talk and local jargon may often be difficult to understand and assimilate.

The panelists discussed many advantages and considerations to keep in mind when working through a visa program. In addition to understanding the laws associated with leveraging an international workforce, it is important for employers to understand the direct costs including compensation and legal expenses associated with the visa, as well as the indirect costs in providing food, lodging and transportation to the workforce. Panelists encouraged APEX investor-members to seek professional advice if interested in learning more information. Additional information is also available through Americans for Cultural Exchange.
For more information, or to reach one of the panelists, please contact Tamara Lowney.

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