Severe Southern California Lifeguard Shortage

Golden State Lifeguards is now in its 4th week of aggressive recruitment for ocean & pool lifeguards in the Southern California region and so far has not been able to hire any new candidates due to what is turning out to be one of the most severe lifeguard shortages ever experienced. The company has been searching high and low to find qualified candidates who are certified and experienced but coming up empty handed. This shortage has negatively impacted operations and will continue to impact operations in the foreseeable future unless something changes.

The senior staff has been attempting to evaluate why the lifeguard shortage exists and what can be done to alleviate the problem. So far we have identified a few problems accounting for this shortage.

  • Too Few Opportunities & Low Pay

    As we scour the web and speak to colleagues, we have found that there are too few opportunities. Most aquatic facilities and companies have not given potential candidates the incentive to work as lifeguards due to the extremely low pay offered. This in itself has been a deterrent for those seeking to become lifeguards or to continue working as lifeguqards. If the wage is increased, perhaps something appealing might attract young adults to become lifeguards in Southern California.

    All it takes is one or two low paying jobs to convince a lifeguard that everyone is just not worth working for. This needs to change!

  • The Dumbing Down Of Youth & Young Adults

    During the past 8 years we have noticed that the youth & young adults are being encouraged to simply live off the “fat of of the land” so to speak. With no encouragement to enter the public safety arena has definitely affected many here in Southern California. This “dumbing down” also decreases the lifeguard pool in terms of qualifications and skill sets. There used to be a day when being a lifeguard was a respectable job and was highly sought after.

  • Pay To Play

    Many aquatic facilities and private companies have recently offered lifeguard certification courses for a fee in order to attract candidates however our position is that if one must pay to work for a company, they simply may not pursue the job. If companies and aquatic facilities are to attract candidates, they must be willing to invest by offering free lifeguard training and then follow up with employee development by way of in-service training. It is all about taking care of lifeguards and encouraging them!

We will continue to evaluate the state of the industry and come up with ways to encourage people to become lifeguards. Our power think tank will be convening to offer solutions. We will publish a white paper at the conclusion of the study.

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