Struggle to fill lifeguard, camp counselor jobs as summer approaches

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:27 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As swimming season approaches, it’s a race against time to fill aquatic positions at recreational facilities and beaches in Burlington.

The Vermont Department of Labor says as of April, the state’s labor market continues to be strong, with roughly two job openings for every unemployed Vermonter, making this the perfect time for job seekers.

But because of the saturation of open seasonal jobs, city officials and staff at the Burlington YMCA say they’re having a hard time hiring for critical summer jobs like camp counselors and lifeguards.

Burlington Parks and Rec and the YMCA say if they can’t find people to fill these positions, they might have to scale back their operations.

“We’re still looking for some lifeguards, which is a shortage across the state. What we have to do there if we don’t have as many guards is that it’s a limited amount of space that we can guard and so we may not have the towers as far spread out. And so we restrict that swimming area where the guards are watching,” said Cindi Wight of Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront.

“We want to be open as much as we can to give the most opportunity to as many people as possible and that requires staffing. We don’t want to close our pool any hours during the summer if we don’t have to. We’d like to offer as many sessions of swim lessons as possible but without swim instructors, without lifeguards, are a possibility for having to cut some of those things back,” said Doug Bishop of the Greater Burlington YMCA.

Both entities say they’re expanding their recruiting efforts and they hope to attract employees with their pay. Online, positions at the YMCA are listed as paying $15-$20 an hour, which is above the state’s minimum wage of $13.18 an hour. The city pays a similar rate of $18.09 an hour.