The aquatics industry is dealing with a relatively new issue. If you are an aquatics director or manager you know that it has become increasingly difficult to locate qualified lifeguarding candidates. Consequently, it has become near impossible to fully staff your facility. There seems to be no difference between year-round and seasonal facilities. Both are experiencing this issue. As a result, our industry has turned to retirees.
Hiring retirees is a viable solution to the lifeguard hiring crisis. If we consider the factors that have led to a smaller pool of qualified lifeguarding candidates, hiring the retirees as staff members makes sense. The high school and college aged lifeguards with whom we are accustomed to working, are choosing to spend their summers differently. For example, they are choosing internships, summer travel, and additional college courses instead of spending their days lifeguarding their local pools. Furthermore, the generation of workers who are high school and college aged continue to present concerns. For instance, these concerns include lack of reliability, willingness to accept constructive criticism, and, in some cases, lacking a full and complete understanding of the seriousness of the job as a lifeguard. On the other hand, we do not experience these same issues with retirees.
It will be difficult for anybody in the industry turn this trend around. Instead, I believe we are faced with identifying new and innovative ways to recruit qualified lifeguarding candidates.
In many cases, the retirees now employed as lifeguards at our facilities have life experience that makes the job easier for them. Namely, they understand the seriousness of the job, the importance of being a reliable employee and have a willingness to learn a new profession. There is a reason they have come out of retirement to join our ranks of lifeguards.
The question the aquatics industry must answer is what other solutions do we have for the lifeguard shortage. Do we feel the trend of having retirees willing to get certified and work the pool for the season will persist? Or, are we concerned that this is a short-lived trend and that we must be creative and solve, in the long-term, the lifeguard shortage issue another way?