Summer activities in Omaha Metro endangered by labor shortage

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Many were looking forward to a more normal summer after last year was a bummer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it appears that some summer activities may still be restricted as a side effect of the pandemic.

6 News has already covered workers in the hospitality industry, but now it is proof that there are labor shortages elsewhere.

“We had to cancel some games, especially at our selected level, because we didn’t have any referees,” said Bruce O’Neel, director of the Elkhorn Athletics Association.

“We play catch-up a lot trying to train guards and get people interested in lifeguards again,” said Jessi Hubbard, the Aquatics Coordinator for the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation.

Swimming pools and youth baseball and softball, popular summer activities, are suffering from labor shortages.

“We’re recruiting as much as possible, lots of cold calling, reaching old employees,” says Hubbard.

“We emailed our parents, coaches, and families saying this was your chance to get involved,” says O’Neel.

Omaha’s 18 public swimming pools require 300 lifeguards and management to operate, but right now, Hubbard says, they only have about 220.

This means that it is possible that some pools may not have to open or have to limit their days.

“These could be pools that this partner has, they’re open one day and the other the next, so we’d combine staff, late opening, or shortened opening hours,” she says.

On Council Bluffs, Aquatics director Mike Bond, who has worked for the city for more than 45 years, says it’s the biggest shortage they’ve ever had. They need around 45 guards and staff for the two public baths. Right now they have about half of it.

“Right now I only have enough guards to open a pool and only for open swimming, no classes, no pool parties. none of the extras, we’re that short right now. “

When it comes to youth sports, O’Neel says they had to hold training sessions to get players as young as 12 to help out with umpire t-ball games. Participation has been good so far, he says.

“We have had quite a number of kids who have been trained and we will be able to play some of these games which should make up for any shortcomings or gaps we have for the EAA.”

O’Neel, Hubbard, and Bond all agree that these summer jobs can help teenagers (or adults) gain valuable leadership and work experience and help make Omaha and Council Bluffs a more normal summer while they deserve a fair bit of change .

“The lowest amount you can earn is $ 35 per game if you play a single Rec game,” says O’Neel.

“We start our watch at $ 10 an hour, and we definitely pay for experience. So if they have experience elsewhere, we’ll pay for it, ”says Bond.

Bond says the Council Bluffs pools will host an open interview session in Pirate Cove on Saturday, May 8, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. If guards end up working for Council Bluffs pools, Bond says their lifeguard certification process will be free.

Applications can be filled out online under “Employment”.

To apply to Omaha Public Pools, you can visit their website and register for an in-person or virtual interview.

For more information, you can contact Jessi at [email protected] If you are interested in referee training, you can email O’Neel at [email protected]

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