Shortage of staff: lighthouse keepers wanted – island overwhelmed with applications

Shortage of staff
Lighthouse keepers wanted – island flooded with applications

The 39 meter high, listed Old Lighthouse is one of the landmarks of the North Sea island. photo

© Mohssen Assanimoghaddam/dpa

Hundreds of applications have been received on the North Sea island for the vacant position of lighthouse keeper on Wangerooge. The flood of applicants now poses challenges for the small island administration.

The small North Sea island is looking for a new lighthouse keeper Wangerooge has been overwhelmed with applications. The island community received around 1,100 applications, said Rieka Beewen, general representative of the mayor on Wangerooge, to the dpa. “This is really crazy,” she said.

“We didn’t expect that.” After extensive media coverage, applications from all over Germany have reached the island town hall in recent weeks, including some from other European countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

The small administration on the East Frisian island now has “a lot of work to do,” says Beewen, who is also the spa director. There are just a dozen administrative staff working in the town hall of the holiday island, which has around 1,200 residents – only one employee is involved in human resources work. “We now have to give her a hand,” said Beewen, referring to the flood of applicants. “This cannot be accomplished alone.”

No lighthouse keeper wanted in the traditional sense

The 39 meter high, listed Old Lighthouse is one of the landmarks of the North Sea island. At the beginning of February, the municipality advertised the unusual position in a job advertisement. However, the island is not looking for a lighthouse keeper in the traditional sense – there haven’t been any on the North and Baltic Seas since the late 1990s. The lighthouse, which has not been in operation since 1969, is used by the island for tourism, for example as a viewing area. According to the job description, the tasks include ticket sales, admission control and the sale of souvenir items.

Some applications were clearly sent just for fun, but the majority were serious, said Beewen. The island community wants to respond to all applicants; first, all letters will be viewed one by one. You should then be invited to interviews. However, according to Beewen, nothing will likely come of the planned start of service at the beginning of May. All applications must first be processed.

Staff shortages on many North Sea islands

Given the great attention, the island community now hopes that some of the applicants may also be interested in other vacancies on the holiday island. As on many North Sea islands, the lack of staff on Wangerooge is one of the islanders’ most pressing concerns. “It’s a total issue,” Beewen said. “We currently still have a hole in children’s entertainment and we are 14 days before Easter.” The tourism season begins on the coast around Easter.

The spa director is confident that there will be a suitable candidate for the Old Lighthouse among the many applications. “Out of 1,100 applicants there should be the right person for us. I strongly believe that,” said Beewen with a smile.


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