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Economy

Once coveted, lifeguard jobs going unfilled

lifeguard.jpg
newgrounds.com
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Pools and beaches across Michigan are scrambling to find people to work as lifeguards.

Ingham County Parks had to offer its own lifeguard training class this year to get enough lifeguards.

Willis Bennett is the parks director.

"Over the years it's just gotten progressively worse," says Bennett.  "Fifteen, 20 years ago you'd have five applications for every position that you're trying to fill, and now you have one application for every five applications you're trying to fill."

Bennett says many youngsters grow up these days indoors, playing video games. So they have little interest in outdoor jobs as teens and young adults.

"Which is too bad," says Bennett. "Because these are some wonderful opportunities for people to not be locked up inside year-round, and get outside and enjoy what Mother Nature can provide, and provide public service at the same time."

Kent County Parks gave up swimming against the tide in 2000. Since then, the county's beaches have had no lifeguards.

Parks directors says youth sports camps, volunteering, and internships also are competing with traditional summer jobs, further reducing the numbers of people willing to work as lifeguards.