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Landscape industry seeks workers, plans job fair

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The Colorado landscape industry will host a job fair to recruit workers for the upcoming growing season. And you need not work outside or have a green thumb to apply.

With the tagline "Make your living in landscaping," the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) Job Fair is Wednesday, February 26 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Summit Conference & Event Center, 411 Sable Blvd. N. in Aurora.

Entry-level positions pay more than minimum wage

“The employment opportunities in our industry are booming, and this is why our association is for the first time hosting a Job Fair,” said Kristen Fefes, executive director of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado. “Even though the average starting wage for landscape jobs is considerably higher than Colorado’s minimum wage, landscape companies have a hard time finding all the talent they need.”

50 landscape firms to participate in jobs fair

The job fair includes about 50 landscape companies with opportunities for employees to design, install and maintain landscapes. Positions are plentiful, and according to the ALCC, pay begins above minimum wage. For landscape workers, the general pay scale ranges from $13 an hour for laborers to $25 per hour for skilled professionals. Depending upon training, skills and experience, other positions pay more.

The ALCC hopes to draw attention to Colorado’s landscape industry as an often overlooked resource for job seekers. The landscape industry employs 40,000 people and brings about $2 billion to the Colorado economy each year, the ALCC reported.

Kimberly Jewell, general manager for Groundsmasters Landscape Services, Inc., emphasized that the landscape industry often pays more than retail, hospitality or food service,

“But it’s still challenging to find the workers we need,” Jewell said.

The job fair will include positions ranging from entry-level jobs to irrigation technicians, foremen and project managers, equipment operators, horticulturists, landscape designers and office support staff.

Fefes said, “Many skills in other lines of work, such as operating equipment or kinesthetic jobs that take manual dexterity, transfer easily to our industry. We want to help job seekers make that connection.”

Steve Steele, Director of Operations at Keesen Landscape Management, Inc., acknowledged that the landscape industry’s seasonal employment deters some job seekers. Yet, he emphasizes the following benefits to landscape jobs:
• Formal training and job experience are not prerequisites.
• Many workers in the industry move up quickly.
• Many people in the industry began as a $10 an hour seasonal worker and now have year-round employment including benefits that include paid vacations, 401K plans and health care plans.

• Most companies are willing to train people–and once trained, they want to retain quality team members.

“The cost to replace a skilled employee is $5,000 or more per employee when you factor in advertising for the position, interviewing prospective employees and then training the new employee,” said David Chenoweth, president of Western States Reclamation, Inc., who specializes in commercial landscape restoration and reclamation projects. “Many of our jobs require heavy equipment operators,” he said, and retaining them is critical to their operations.

Job fair includes indoor and outdoor work

“Contrary to what many think, not every job is outside,” said Fefes. “Landscape companies also have the types of jobs any company needs – support staff in the office, sales people, mechanics and others who back up the work that takes place outdoors.”

For more information on the ALCC Job Fair, call 303 757-5611 or go to www.alcc.com.

••• "Cultivate your corner of the world.

You grow your garden; your garden grows you." •••

Colleen Smith writes from and gardens in Denver, Colorado. She's been a longtime regular contributor to The Denver Post, Colorado Expression, Sunset Magazine, and other publications.

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