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Only third of new teachers have found a job in Northern Ireland

By Adrain Rutherford

Published 30/06/2015

Barely a third of teachers who qualified in Northern Ireland last year have managed to secure jobs, it has been revealed.

The number of graduates gaining work has slipped alarmingly over the past five years.

And there are warnings that the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.

It comes as hundreds of newly qualified teachers prepare to join the job queue when they graduate from university over the coming week.

Justin McCamphill from the NASUWT teachers' union said budget pressures were having a severe impact on teaching positions.

"If you are taking three or four hundred people out every year then there are less jobs available," he said.

Details of graduate teachers' employment prospects were disclosed after an Assembly question from DUP MLA Peter Weir. Education Minister John O'Dowd said 355 of the 513 graduates (69%) who registered with the General Teaching Council in Northern Ireland in 2010 are employed on a permanent or significant temporary basis.

However, by 2014 this had fallen to 38%, with 184 of the 480 graduates securing work as of June 22.

Mr McCamphill warned the situation was likely to deteriorate further. "Unfortunately, for those graduating, there doesn't seem to be much hope at the minute," he said.

He said teachers are being moved around the system to compensate for redundancies, leading to a lack of opportunities.

Changes in working practices are also having an impact.

"With the State pension age for teachers rising to 67, there will be fewer opportunities because people are staying in their jobs," he said

Among those struggling to secure a position is Emma Barry (26) from Belfast.

She graduated in 2011 and worked for three years as a classroom assistant, before getting a year-long position on the Executive's Signature Project, which provided work for hundreds of newly qualified teachers.

However, that has now ended and she is again on the lookout for a teaching post.

"This year the competition is really, really high," Emma said.

"I hope to get something in Northern Ireland but looking at the situation I realise it is going to be very difficult.

"I know that if I went to England I could get something in the morning, but I don't want to leave Northern Ireland."

Mr O'Dowd said he wanted to ensure newly qualified teachers are given every chance to gain permanent employment. "While the decision on whom to appoint to a particular post rests with the boards of governors of individual schools, my department has advised schools that they should recruit to vacancies on a permanent rather than a temporary basis unless the vacancy is clearly of a temporary nature," he said.

"In addition, my department has repeatedly urged schools to consider newly or recently qualified teachers when filling vacancies, particularly those of a temporary nature.

"Guidance has been issued to all the employing authorities and schools informing them that they must use the NI Substitute Teacher Register when booking substitute teachers, thus enabling schools to identify younger teachers."

Mr O'Dowd said the lack of employment opportunities for newly qualified teachers was no different to other professions.

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