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Drastic shortage of swim teachers puts young Australians at risk

Drastic shortage of swim teachers puts young Australians at risk
March 18, 2021

A massive shortage of swim teachers is putting young children at risk with swim schools across the country reporting long waiting lists for lessons while they scramble to find suitable staff.

Estimating a need for at least 2000 swimming teachers across Australia and highlighting that extra training courses were being implemented by the industry body to help people achieve the necessary qualifications, Swim Australia Chief Executive, Brendon Ward stated “we lost a lot of swim teachers during COVID as pools were closed and many were ineligible for JobKeeper and sought alternative employment in other sectors.

“As a result, we are now seeing average waiting lists for swim lessons 20% higher than they were pre-COVID and many swim schools cannot even cater for their existing customer base.”

Explaining that the swim teacher shortage posed a risk to long-term water safety and learn to swim skills in children, Ward commented “we’ve already seen an increase in the drowning toll this summer.

“Swimming is a core life skill which is best taught in the formative years and if we miss the chance to teach young Aussies water safety skills, we may miss it forever.”

Nancy Shaw, General Manager at Holsworthy Aquatic Centre in Sydney said at her swim school alone, they had vacancies for at least six swim teachers and for the first time they have a waiting list for swim lessons.

Shaw explained “along with the teacher shortage, there has also been an increase in demand for learn to swim lessons, particularly for babies and toddlers.

“Our most recent school holiday program was the biggest we have ever had, a key reason being that people were not travelling and were doing activities close to home instead.”

Ward said the flip side was that there were now over 2000 jobs begging across the country, a major employment opportunity for Australians with JobKeeper finishing in March, going on to say “swim teaching is one of the most flexible jobs available and is attractive to both people seeking full-time employment or those looking to earn extra income while studying or bringing up young children.

“People can complete a Swim Australia teacher workshop in one day, start on-the-job training almost immediately and within six weeks they can have an industry and VET recognised qualification and basically guaranteed employment right now with the need so high.”

For 19-year-old Brisbane student Amy McKitrick, her swim teaching qualifications have literally opened up the world and two years ago she travelled to Mexico to volunteer at an orphanage, with part of that work being to teach the kids to swim.

McKitrick advised “I taught the kids from the orphanage and other local kids from the village to swim and while they ranged in age from 4 to 12, many of them had never been taught to swim.

“It was an amazing experience that I would love to do again.”

McKitrick teaches swimming part-time at Nudgee College Swimming in Brisbane, fitting lessons in with her university studies and said the job was extremely rewarding, and adds “I loved swimming as a kid and now I can share that with the kids I teach.

“There’s the satisfaction of watching the kids get better over time and knowing they’ll be safe in the water. It suits my study schedule and it’s amazing to know I’m making a positive impact on kids’ lives.”

Ward concluded “the need is so great that we will support as many courses as required to right the shortage and get more children learning how to swim. It will also impact small business by helping swim schools operate at peak capacity again.”

Bookings are open for training programs in all states by visiting and clicking on the Become a Swim Teacher link.

Images: Brisbane student and swim teacher Amy McKitrick, pictured at middle with Swim Australia Chief Executive, Brendon Ward.

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24th March 2020 - ASCTA/Swim Australia release Coronavirus guidance for swim schools

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