Parks Hiring Lifeguards for 2024 Summer Season
Offering bonuses to overcome shortage. Training starts in January.
Milwaukee County Parks has begun searching for lifeguards for summer 2024.
The department, responsible for more than 40 pools and splash pads, has struggled to find enough lifeguards in recent years, like many other park and aquatic systems across the country. Training sessions for the 2024 season are open for enrollment and the first one begins Jan. 3. The sessions last roughly two weeks and will be held into April.
The COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on recruitment, disrupting swim classes, lifeguard trainings and recertification courses. With pools across the county closed and Bradford Beach unguarded for lack of lifeguards, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors responded by increasing hourly pay and funding bonuses and incentives to bolster recruitment.
The new pay structure went into effect in 2022 and since then the number of lifeguards Parks has recruited has slowly increased. In order to open every pool and guard the beaches, Parks would need approximately 200 lifeguards. When the department began opening pools this past summer it had fewer than 100.
The 2024 Milwaukee County budget also included funding for a new staff position within the department and one of the position’s duties will be to work on lifeguard recruitment. The new lifeguard recruiter will promote and attend events throughout the county promoting Parks’ aquatic jobs and programs, along with recruiting for other seasonal and maintenance positions. The Milwaukee Parks Foundation is funding half of the salary for this position. The budget for next year also includes funding to operate five deep well pools during the summer and two indoor pools during the winter.
For Parks, recruitment isn’t the end of their challenge of hiring lifeguards. In the Milwaukee area, as in many others, there is a dearth of strong swimmers who are also interested in working as lifeguards. The attrition rate for 2023 lifeguard training classes was high. Of the 76 that signed up for winter training, only 10 finished.
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