FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- As summer inches closer, city officials are gearing up to open pools in Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville in the upcoming weeks, Hiring enough lifeguards has been central to the preparations.
Officials in Fayetteville said the city has been off to a good start in hiring lifeguards for this summer. They say part of their strategy has been offering more guidance in the process for teens.
"Many of them have never even filled out an application before," said Elise Shank, the Aquatics Coordinator of Fayetteville Cumberland County Parks and Recreation. "So, we worked with HR and we created a guide that shows them step by step how they're supposed to fill out the application."
Shank also says they've been more flexible and accommodating when holding interviews. There are already about 85 lifeguards on track to work for Fayetteville this summer, while there are about 100 jobs available.
However, in Raleigh, officials say they've been swimming upstream.
"It's a little bit better than last year," Aaron Weaver said, the city's aquatic program director. "Last year, we struggled significantly. We're not in the same place we were in last year, but we're not where we had hoped we would be. We're certainly not at pre-pandemic levels."
Right now, Raleigh has around 180 lifeguards. The goal is to hire 270 by the time school is out in June. The city said it aimed to hire more than 200 by now as it plans to open pools Memorial Day weekend. It is pushing its free, weekly lifeguard training to entice applicants and is touting its recent pay bump to $16 an hour.
However, Shank noted that it will take more than money to get prospective, teenage lifeguards to sign up.
"This generation is completely different from all the previous generations," Shank said. "So, if they don't like working somewhere and they don't like who they work for, they just will not work. So, we've made, I think a really important decision that we're prioritizing our appreciation for them and flexibility.
Durham's Parks and Rec department is holding a hiring event on Saturday, too.
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