Less than a third of teaching graduates here securing jobs
Fewer than a third of newly-qualified teachers in Northern Ireland have been able to secure jobs, it has been revealed.
Just 141 of 445 graduates were employed on a long-term basis in the last year.
The number finding work has fallen steadily since 2013, figures released by Education Minister John O'Dowd show.
In 2013/14 some 58% of graduates were in employment on a permanent or "significant temporary" basis, but in the past 12 months this has fallen to just 32%.
It suggests a bleak outlook for hundreds of new teachers joining the job queue when they graduate this summer. The figures were disclosed by Mr O'Dowd (below) after an Assembly question from DUP MLA Alex Easton.
Since April 2013 a total of 1,381 graduates qualified in Northern Ireland and registered with the General Teaching Council.
However, just 636 (46%) of graduates were in long-term employment in that period.
A breakdown of the figures shows that almost half - 273 of 469 graduates - secured employment in 2013/14.
This year, just 141 of the 445 graduates were in a job.
Justin McCamphill from the NASUWT teaching union said some graduates were heading abroad in search of work.
"We want to see new people in the profession, and for the workforce to reflect the population," he said.
"If graduates aren't getting jobs, we risk losing them to elsewhere. It's important that our best young people are in teaching jobs.
"The best qualified teachers will produce the best results, and that is the key to building a strong economy."
Peter Weir, who chairs the Assembly's education committee, said many teachers were waiting years for full-time work.
"While there is some qualification needed on the figures, as to who they include and who they don't, the figures give a clear and shocking indication of the level of unemployment with new graduates," he said. Mr Weir said there was a clear need to look in a strategic way at the levels of supply, and the help offered to newly-qualified teachers.
Mr O'Dowd said: "For many graduates, finding jobs in their field in the past few years has been more difficult.
"I am aware of the numbers of graduate teachers who have had difficulty finding meaningful employment and that is why I have been actively considering innovative ways to create teaching job opportunities in schools.
"However, I have also been mindful of the need to maintain a balance between the numbers being trained and the projected number of teaching vacancies, and have reduced the teacher intake numbers by over 30% in recent years, from 880 in 2004/05 to the current level of 580. If I was to reduce intakes significantly, students will go to England and elsewhere to train and return to look for work.
"This would not help reduce the pool of teachers looking for employment."