Summer worker shortage, teens in Lexington not filling seasonal jobs as usual

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Usually this time of year, high school and college kids are scrambling to find summer jobs, but this year, the jobs are scrambling to find them.

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In industry after industry, there seems to be more jobs than people willing to take them.

Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Johnson said there’s a shortage of seasonal workers and he said a part of it is because the city couldn’t re-certify lifeguards last summer because of the pandemic.

“We need – desperately need more lifeguards,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a lot of people who are interested in guarding but they don’t have current certification or have never been certified.”

Johnson said a re-certification class is being held in a few weeks and he thinks that’ll largely solve the problem. However, he said another issue is finding groundskeepers.

“I guess people are hiring all over town,” Johnson said. “There’s just a bit of a labor shortage.”

That’s something YMCA CEO Paula Anderson agrees with.

“I think the pool’s a little bit smaller than it would be anyway,” Anderson said. “it’s just kinda a perfect storm of a lot of different issues.”

Other than heavy competition, Anderson said another factor is that camp counselor positions are typically filled by college students.

“A lot of our college students were virtual this year, so if you were a student at UK or Eastern and you were doing your classes from home, you’re not in this labor market this year,” Anderson said.

Lifeguards can be as young as 16 and she said concerned parents might want them home for the summer.

Anderson said she knows she’s up against a lot, and so as an incentive, workers who stay for the entire summer can earn a 500-dollar bonus.

“Doing our best to stay competitive in the local market,” Anderson said.

Johnson said being paid to hang out in the sun sounds like a good deal to him.

“Where else do you get paid to be outside and have fun with your friends and be in such a great environment?”

To learn more about the positions with Lexington Parks and Rec, click here.
To learn more about the positions with the YMCA, click here.

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Bobbi McSwine joined the ABC 36 News Team in March 2020. She started as a Web Content Producer in November 2019. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, known to many as the “Windy City.” She studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. While in school, she had a number of internships ranging from Free Spirit Media, ABC 7 Chicago and Illinois Public Media. She fell in love with writing in high school and paired that with a newfound passion for storytelling in college. She misses her hometown, but she loves the horses and rich history in Lexington. When she’s not working, she’s probably listening to music or binge-watching Netflix. She’s always looking to get to know more people in Central Kentucky, so feel free to shoot her a message on Facebook @BobbiWTVQ, follow her on Twitter @McSwineB_News, or send her an email at bmcswine@wtvq.com.