AUSTIN (KXAN) — Summer is right around the corner, with most schools letting out for break next week.
The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department is gearing up for an abundance of summer activities with a full-fledged recruiting effort.
Summer seasonal employees — such as lifeguards and camp counselors — will earn a $20 minimum wage along with being eligible to earn up to $750 in bonuses throughout the summer.
PARD is also offering up to $800 in bonuses for full-time temporary positions within its operations and maintenance team. These positions include cashiers, maintenance workers, and park grounds assistants.
This is all part of the city’s summer employee bonus program, aimed at attracting applicants for various part-time positions.
Last summer, only 15 of 34 of the city’s pools opened at the beginning of June because of lifeguard shortages.
Aquatic Supervisor Aaron Levine said it wasn’t safe to open all the public pools without 850 lifeguard positions filled.
“We won’t operate a pool without our minimum number of lifeguards,” he said. “So, it’s really critical that we fill these positions and get the staff in here so that we can open our pools.”
PARD grounds manager Kerri Thompson shared a similar sentiment when it comes to keeping city parks clean and green.
“If we don’t have the help to do the work that we need in the field, it’s really difficult for us to stay ahead of the game for the public to enjoy a nice clean welcoming park,” she said.
Yet, Thompson has seen a surge in applicants this spring.
According to PARD, nearly half of its 50 seasonal operations and maintenance positions have been filled.
“At $20 an hour, we’re getting a lot more people from further outside of Austin that have applied for jobs,” Thompson said. “We’ve had guys from Wimberley, Taylor and all sorts of areas outside of Austin that are actually applying for jobs.”
As of May 16th, PARD received over 1,200 applicants for lifeguards. All applicants have been contacted and are in various stages of hiring.
PARD also said it has 422 lifeguards on a ready-to-work list. Another 200 are onboarding and training to become certified.
“The $20 an hour has really just made us a more competitive employer,” Levine said. “It’s really done a lot to attract people in.”
The city staff remains confident with high hopes that all 32 (Gillis Pool and Givens Pool are closed for renovation) of its operational pools will open on June 12th.
To apply for eligible bonuses by working for the Parks and Recreation Department, you can click here.