“The climb up to the poolside lifeguard’s chair used to be a daily summer ritual for thousands of American teenagers, a rite of passage on the path to adulthood.
These days it is more a test of creaking limbs as senior citizens fill the growing number of casual jobs left open by students who are consumed with internships and extra-curricular interests.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 35 per cent of 16-to-19 year olds are working, down from 52 per cent 20 years ago.
“There’s been an age twist,” said Paul Harrington, a professor of labour markets at Drexel University, Philadelphia. “There’s this idea out there among teens that work isn’t such a cool thing anymore. So who’s replacing them in the workforce? Older Americans, 55 and up,” he told The Washington Post.
Parks departments, hotels and country clubs are struggling to fill 150,000 lifeguard jobs. It does not help that the role is not perceived as being as glamorous as it once was. “Back when Baywatch was on the air, we had so many applicants that we had to turn people away,” BJ Fisher, of the American Lifeguard Association, said.
The organisation is now recruiting senior citizens — including at least one person aged 86 — to make up the shortfall. “We’re starting to think outside the box: baby boomers, seniors, retired lawyers and accountants,” Mr Fisher said.”
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