Getting teaching placement or jobs becoming tougher

Teachers better able to find work in specialized areas

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Student teachers teaching a class

Zack Vitiello

THEY WERE NERVOUS. THEY HAD FILMED DOZENS OF “MOVIES,” BUT THIS WAS THEIR FIRST GROUP SCENE. A new study says with too few positions available, teachers are finding it harder to get work. At least people will stop bitching about teacher-student ratios.

Teacher’s college graduates and applicants are facing some of the worst odds in a decade for finding placements in a college or permanent job.

“Transitions to Teaching,” a study completed in 2006, says there were 16,282 teacher’s college applicants in the province competing for about 7,500 positions. There are also approximately 12,000 new teachers looking for work in Ontario compared to about 5,700 retirees.

The study also suggests newly certified elementary teachers may have to wait up to three years for a full-time job. One third of newly certified teachers worked as supply teachers, and one in five worked in two or more schools.

Applications to Western were up three to four per cent to 5,800 applications for 820 spots.

Frank McIntyre, manager of human resources at the Ontario College of Teachers, said the work shortage stems from a high number of new teachers in Ontario and the end of a retirement bulge earlier this decade.

“If you go back to the early part of the decade in 2000, the number of new teachers was about 9,000 [compared to] 7,100 retiring teachers,” McIntyre said. “So there was a gap there of about 1,900 teachers, but not a large one.

“Last year we had about 12,000 new teachers and about 5,700 retirees, so there is a much larger gap and it is harder to find jobs.”

“It’s not going to be easy for new grads,” said Allen Pearson, dean of Western’s Faculty of Education. “Some have landed jobs, others are trying, [but] the mood isn’t too bad.

“The word is out that the shortage has ended. Students are seeing that they may have to take other kinds of positions before permanent work.”

Don Brodhagen, a student in Western’s teaching program, said he wants to teach high school English and history but will take what he can get.

“It’s really stressful,” he said. “I’m going to apply to every board I can... and even look at other options like going overseas.”

McIntyre said the increase in teacher’s college applicants was in response to the retirement bulge.

He said in the 1990s few jobs were available and interest was low in teaching as a career. Between 1998 and 2003 there was a spike in retirement. The Ontario Ministry of Education added 1,500 spaces in various colleges in response and New York state schools began recruiting Ontarions.

“If you look at the numbers today, about 16,000 people apply, which is more than double that of 10 years ago,” McIntyre said.

Teachers were better able to find regular jobs in specialized areas. Seventy-one per cent of teachers in French and two thirds of teachers in physics, math and technology secured full-time work.

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