Russia-Ukraine conflict could impact staffing of Grand Strand lifeguards

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - March is typically the time of year when beach services in the Grand Strand are being staffed for the summer season.

In years past, many of those lifeguards came from overseas - but the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine could impact those numbers this year.

“As of right now we are still in the clear,” said Nick Jackson, general manager of John’s Beach Service. “As far as individuals are cleared to come and gotten their J1 visa for the summer but obviously this changes by the day.”

The J1 visa allows students to come overseas to the United States for up to four months for work. It’s part of the State Department’s summer work travel program.

Jackson said the past two summers have been hard enough with travel bans preventing J1 workers from coming to the Grand Strand. With the tensions in Eastern Europe in mind, he says they’re doing their best to staff up for what’s expected to be another busy summer.

“We hire out of Poland and the Czech Republic. That’s where most of our lifeguards come from. Obviously, Poland is on the border of Ukraine,” Jackson said.

He added that hiring hasn’t been easy without the J1 lifeguards, but Johns is still looking for qualified lifeguards before the summer starts in just a few weeks.

“It was certainly a bit more difficult. We had to rely on our domestic recruiting ability,” Jackson said. “From what they’re all telling me it’s their intention to still come, but it’s war. Nobody knows what the end result is going to be so that could change tomorrow. Which is totally understandable change direction if any of them decide to stay in their home country.”

Click here for more information.

Copyright 2022 WMBF. All rights reserved.