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Metro cities all trying to hire new batch of employees for summer jobs

Metro cities remain hopeful they'll be able to fill positions in time for summer, but many still have dozens to fill.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Cities across the Des Moines metro have been busy gearing up for the summer and recruiting workers to fill seasonal positions. 

This year, however, they are facing some new challenges, so they are having to tackle them in a new way.

On Wednesday, for example, Ankeny hosted a job fair to fill positions at its aquatic center. While recruiters have participated in other job fairs, it's the first time the city hosted its own. They still have a few dozen spots left to fill.

"We're right around 65 lifeguards, so we're definitely looking for more to secure. But not panicking yet," said Nick Lenox, director of Ankeny Parks & Recreation.

Fifteen-year-old Margo Bezuhlova was there to apply for one of those lifeguard spots.

"I think it's really fun. It's my first experience, and I'm really, really excited for it," she said.

In Ames, leaders are seeing similar challenges.

"If we can't find enough lifeguards or find enough staff for any of our programs, we either got to cancel programs, limit what we offer, reduce our services," said Keith Abraham, director of Ames Parks and Recreation.

There are several factors playing into recruitment challenges.

"We compete with the private sector for employees," Lenox told Local 5.

Those jobs sometimes pay more. Others say the pool of potential applicants is smaller.

"Some staff have graduated; they have full-time jobs now. There's more of an emphasis on internships and practicums."

In Waukee, growth there has meant needing twice as many employees as last year.

"We're anticipating the opening of Triumph Park this June, which will require several employees to maintain that facility and provide services to those visiting the park as well," said Michelle Lindsey, director of human resources for the city.

This has led to cities trying new things to recruit workers. In Ames, they have a newsletter sent to about 10,000 households.

"We've also expanded our social media presence. We've reached out to enhance job recruitment on Snapchat," Lenox said.

In Waukee, where leaders say they now have close to 80% of their seasonal positions filled, it helped to start early. 

"We need to get out front of that curve. We need to find those people and and get them committed to come work for Waukee prior to actually needing them," Lindsey said.

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