We understand that an ongoing theme in many of our blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts has to do with the severe national lifeguard shortage but unfortunately this subject is not going away anytime soon. With the past elections, we are predicting the problem will get much worse before it gets better. Our goal is to get this subject noticed by the media in an effort to warn consumers and vacationers of the dangers of this shortage.
Every year we make every effort to attract quality lifeguard candidates with good pay and great working conditions however despite all best efforts, many are not responding to the call. We would like to offer our analysis of where we have been and where we are going with this.
Eight years ago there was a movement that accelerated what we call the PC culture and what this has done up to this point has done damage in more ways than one. That one point in time has led to this current point of time!
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS –
the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
Political correctness has affected the lifeguard industry in a very profound way and it is not good. It has also cost the lives of people and let us explain.
During the last eight years we have seen a movement that rewards kids with participation trophies even though those kids lost a competition or some sort of similar activity. They were rewarded for losing! That same attitude exists today in the lifeguard training arena and it is this PC mentality that will lead to the deaths of lifeguards as well as swimmers in distress. It is that mentality that will lead to an even greater lifeguard shortage.
What we have observed is that many lifeguard training companies or freelance lifeguard instructors are certifying lifeguard students even though they have not demonstrated proficient skills. They are rewarding poor students with a certification for fear of offending them and for fear of losing their profits. Many schools operate as a mill which means getting them in and getting them out with no regards to ensuring skills proficiency. Sure they learn how to save a person but can they actually do it? Will they react swiftly or will they freeze like others have? These are questions and concerns that must be addressed immediately. Too many of these lifeguard trainees are being coddled and are not being challenged physically or mentally.
The other challenge is that many of these students feel they are entitled to become certified lifeguards, after all they just paid anywhere from $175.00 to $200.00 for the class. They expect it, demanding the instructors give in to their entitlement attitude. It is this attitude that gets people killed especially when these young lifeguards care nothing more than collecting an “easy paycheck” or checking out the pool for “hot” guys or girls.
We should note that only a few students are in the class for the right reason and they will go on to learn as much as they can to become great lifeguards. These are the ones we target because they show great promise and work hard to be the best at their jobs.
So where do we go from here especially after eight years of raising up a generation of kids who have been rewarded for poor performance? We need to put these kids on notice and make them understand that in order to become a lifeguard, a firefighter or even a police officer, it takes work to accomplish this goal. We must not reward them with participation trophies because it makes them feel good. We must not certify them if they have not demonstrated proficiency.
As of November 2016 we are seeing the beginning of what will become a recruiting nightmare and that will ultimately disqualify many from ever setting foot in the door here at Golden State Lifeguards. We know this will affect other employers as well and then again there are some who will look the other way. This new marijuana law will further increase the lifeguard shortage which is not good news.
More and more states are passing more laws allowing people to grow, possess and smoke marijuana. From day one we have always maintained a drug free workplace and have made sure that our staff do not partake of illegal drugs. This law in California will only make it more difficult to recruit and retain lifeguards.
We have now updated our employment page that notifies candidates they will be subject to pre-employment drug tests via hair follicle testing and random drug testing during employment. This in of itself is scaring many potential candidates away however we will not compromise. Would you want a lifeguard watching your children who may be high on marijuana? We sure would not!
Another factor contributing to the lifeguard shortage is the matter of pay. No matter where you go in the United States, lifeguard pay is anywhere from minimum wage to slightly better. Here in Los Angeles, many pool lifeguards will make anywhere between $10.50 to $12.00 per hour. Beach lifeguards do not fare much better unless you happen to land a coveted spot on Los Angeles County Lifeguards. They start at somewhere in the neighborhood of $21.00 per hour. We start all lifeguards off at at least $15.00 per hour and pay up to $20.00 per hour.
If the pay for lifeguards were to increase, it is our opinion that the industry may recover slightly.
Now we realize that we could go deeper into the problem but we will leave this right where it is. The industry will not recover overnight but it is our hope that we can get in on the national conversation regarding the most severe lifeguard shortage ever seen. We hope to find solutions to the problem and soon. Lives depend on professional and qualified lifeguards for overall safety!