Belfast Telegraph

Trainee teacher numbers 'down 25%'

The number of trainee teachers in Northern Ireland has fallen by almost a quarter since 2004, the education minister said.

John O'Dowd said he took seriously concerns over poor employment prospects for newly qualified teachers and wanted to ensure they were afforded every opportunity to obtain posts.

The Department of Education has said it would cost up to £20 million a year to guarantee newly qualified teachers a year's induction.

It follows claims by DUP MLA Jonathan Craig that up to 95% of new teachers are unable to secure full-time jobs.

Mr O'Dowd said: "Whilst I want to maximise the opportunities for newly qualified teachers here, it is important to remember that we are faced with economic challenges that are unprecedented in living memory. Every profession, not just teaching, is experiencing increased competition for jobs."

The minister said the intake to teacher education courses has reduced from 880 in 2004/5 to 663 in 2011/12, a reduction of almost 25%.

Mr O'Dowd also said measures to stop schools from offering substitute teaching to prematurely retired teachers were working.

"These steps have helped reduce the number of temporary days worked by prematurely retired teachers by over one third since 2008/9," he added.

He said three quarters of teachers who graduated in 2006 are now employed in a teaching post.

Figures obtained from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for June this year show that there were 17 unemployment claimants under the age of 30 whose occupation sought was teaching and who were unemployed for more than 26 weeks.

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