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Businesses struggle to find seasonal employees, look to teens to fill gap

Now that school is out for the summer, teens are entering the seasonal workforce. But this June, businesses are still looking for workers.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We’ve all seen the “employees wanted” signs in storefront windows recently.

Across the country, many industries are seeing a worker shortage and businesses are struggling to find enough employees.

Some business owners are hoping kids who are out of school for the summer will help alleviate the worker shortage, but Louisville ice cream shop Dairy Del is still hurting for employees.

“We need help again, I mean I need people, we’re really short people,” Dairy Del owner Wayne Madison said.  

Madison hires kids as young as 14 to work at the ice cream shop. Sometimes, those kids will come back summer after summer until they leave high school. But right now, Madison is having a hard time hiring those young workers and said he's about eight employees short.

“This year’s different, I don’t know what it is,” Madison said. “We haven’t gotten a lot of applications this year.”

Madison isn’t the only local business owner hurting for workers. Kentucky Kingdom is still looking for 300 more workers to fill open spots this summer.

“The positions we’re looking at are mostly food, rides and aquatics,” Group Sales and Special Events Manager Carly Uglow said.

Kentucky Kingdom also hires a lot of high school and college-aged kids who then come back to work the next year. That’s how Senior Ride Supervisor Tyler Quiggins started at the amusement park back in 2018.

“I had a few friends that were applying here, so I applied here as well and I got the job,” Quiggins said.

RELATED: Louisville, southern Indiana restaurants face staffing struggles as diners return

Kentucky Kingdom hosts hiring events and uses social media to get the word out about open jobs, but relies a lot on word of mouth.

“We depend on a lot of our team members to get their friends and tell them it’s a fun place to work at and try to get their friends to come with them as well,” Uglow said.

Uglow said this isn’t a new struggle - every year it’s tough to hire enough people to fill all of the positions.

Since school let out for summer, Kentucky Kingdom hasn’t seen a huge increase in applications but Uglow said he's hoping to fill those open spots by July.

Madison is also hoping to get workers in as soon as possible, telling anyone who is looking for a job, that it’s going to be one they’re sure to enjoy.

“It’s fun, I mean ice cream’s fun,” Madison said. “Everyone likes ice cream.”

Dairy Del has had to cut back its hours because it doesn’t have enough employees and is still looking if you’re interested in finding a summer job.

Contact reporter Rose McBride at rmcbride@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter. 

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