Community services

Staff shortages force closure of council community services

The doors of libraries, swimming pools and parks are closed across the country as local councils grapple with staff shortages caused by Covid-19, winter illnesses and a tight labor market.

From lifeguards to park maintenance staff and parking wardens, Queenstown Lakes District Council sports and recreation manager Simon Battrick says it has never been harder to fill a role.

“The reality is that this is probably the worst I’ve seen in 30 years.

READ MORE: Covid, winter illnesses leave businesses short-staffed

“Every day, we are short of 35 to 45% of staff.

“We are paying above the norm, to try to get more Kiwis into the jobs.”

In Hawke’s Bay, according to Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle, staff shortages forced them to close three libraries during peak Saturday afternoon hours.

“We offer one of our youth employment services in the morning instead of all day. So we just had to make adjustments due to our overall staffing situation.

“It’s quite difficult to maintain services to the community.

But across the country, nowhere are vacancies starker than poolside.

At Wellington’s Tawa Pool, six of nine full-time positions are vacant, forcing the council to close it until September.

But Recreation Aotearoa chief executive Andrew Leslie said while recent winter outbreaks have not helped, they are far from the only cause of the labor shortage facing the government. local.

“There are a few things going on here and it’s quite complex…issues around Covid-related shortages or winter illnesses, but we’re also seeing real long-term difficulty in filling the roles.”

He says it’s a problem that dates back to last year and is felt at all levels.

“We are also seeing at the supervisor level that there are vacancies that are really hard to fill.

“We have heard of vacancies of up to 12 months in some of these types of positions.”