Home Outdoor Recreation Portland Parks & Recreation struggles with staffing scarcity

Portland Parks & Recreation struggles with staffing scarcity


PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Cities across the country are facing staffing issues at parks and recreational facilities. With summer just around the corner, Portland parents are excited to take their kids to swim lessons. Classes are scarce due to staff shortages.

Since June 2021, Portland Parks & Recreation has been hosting job fairs and using social media to recruit more staff. They are trying to hire 100 more lifeguards and swimming instructors for the 2022 summer season. For each additional employee, that means 25 to 50 children per day. Alaina Bott, PP&R Aquatics Director, says they are frustrated and want to teach every kid in town to swim.

In the summer of 2019, i.e. before the pandemic, around 750 seasonal workers were employed in the aquaristics alone. This year there are only about 300.

“I think something just happened during the pandemic and priorities shifted and people just found other jobs. We closed, so we lost a lot of staff,” says Bott.

Positions have a flexible schedule, free CPR certification, and competitive pay. In addition to classes, fun things like the slide at the Southwest Community Center are not open because the slide requires two staff members. Limited locations make it difficult for parents like Mary to find an alternative for their 5-year-old son.

“We’re going to do our classes in a different pool that we haven’t been to just so he gets used to the water and comfortable in the summer,” says Mary Jalei. “It’s definitely not accessible. We need to pack up the kids and go somewhere else and find out what area that is in.”

There are seven outdoor pools and four indoor pools, and a waiting list of over a thousand children. Classes are only given at outdoor pools because they can serve more neighborhoods. The swimming pool closest to the SWCC that offers instruction is the Wilson Outdoor Swimming Pool.

“He was really excited to do it here and I don’t know if I’ll sway his enthusiasm,” says Jalei.

If you want to apply, pay starts at $15/hour. You can visit the Portland Parks & Recreation website here.