Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

5,000 Northern Ireland teachers can’t find a job

Just 30 out of the 600 new teachers trained in Northern Ireland have been able to secure full-time school jobs this year — raising concerns they will be driven away to seek work, it was claimed today.

The 570 young teachers left without work after graduating this year join an estimated pool of 5,000 currently out of work.

Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig said Stormont has to address why only a tiny percentage of current graduate teachers have been able to find permanent work, and why the numbers being trained has not been reduced. The DUP man said there was a massive oversupply of new teachers, for a limited number of jobs.

MLAs were today due to debate concerns over the number of new teachers in the Assembly today.

“We have to ask the question, why are we training 600 teachers when only 5% of them have achieved a full-time position in teaching this year?” Mr Craig said.

“I know a lot of them will be doing subbing work and while that’s something, it’s an element of teaching that’s actually reducing as the impact of the economic crisis takes hold.

“Sick levels are decreasing and budgets are tight, so there are fewer and fewer opportunities for those young people who have graduated from teaching.”

The DUP man said the system does not allow for young teachers to get experience within the school environment and that it’s “incredibly sad” that some have been on the job market for five years.

“Two difficulties are the oversupply of individuals in teaching itself as a career, which is something the department will have to deal with the reality of. Secondly, why can’t we put in position a graduate training scheme such as they have tried out in Scotland, where graduates spend a year in a school, which will greatly help their prospects?”

As the chairman of the board of governors at Laurel Hill Community College in Lagan Valley, Mr Craig said graduates come for interview with very limited work experience and that most subjects are oversupplied.

He added that older teachers being brought back into schools to sub after retirement is one area of concern adding to the problem.

“These are very, very clear issues and an issue I am attempting to deal with, but I know it’s not being dealt with effectively in other schools.

“In certain circumstances, you do need experienced people, but in a large number of cases you could bring young people in.

“I know quite a few young teachers who are out of work. It’s hard to console someone who has spent all that time in college and then finds themselves without work.

“It drives some people out of Northern Ireland all together to the UK market. It’s a regrettable situation.”

Tony Carlin, senior official from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, said he has raised the issue of newly-qualified teachers with Education Minister John |O’Dowd and feels pre-school aged children should be taught by graduate teachers.

“INTO continues to press for the adoption of the model in Scotland where new qualified teachers are given one year’s service,” Mr Carlin said.

“We have highlighted to the minister that in fact when they are considering nursery provision in play groups they should be required to give first offer of employment to a newly-qualified teacher.

“It’s been proven through research that children perform better when they are taught by teachers.”

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