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Teacher Shortage Coming All Across Ontario, Says College of Teachers

November 20 1998

TORONTO – A study by the Ontario College of Teachers shows that serious shortages of qualified teachers will soon affect schools in every part of the province – and that almost every teaching specialty will be hit.

The study, the first ever to look at the qualifications of all potential teacher retirees, will be published Monday in the College’s publication Professionally Speaking and its French language version Pour parler profession. It shows that school boards across the province will soon face severe shortages of both secondary and elementary teachers.

The College study estimates that more than 41,000 of the province’s 171,500 qualified teachers will retire in just five years and more than 78,000 over the next 10 years. This means that by 2003, about one in four qualified teachers living in Ontario will retire and about one in two by 2008.

"The College’s regulatory role includes alerting the profession and the public to teacher shortages that may emerge across the province," said College Chair Donna Marie Kennedy. "The College will continue to work with the ministry, faculties of education and boards of education to find a solution that will ensure that Ontario students continue to be taught by qualified teachers.

"Teachers who took other jobs or left the province to teach elsewhere should seriously consider a career here in Ontario. The solution to the problem also includes focusing teacher education programs in specialties and areas that we know are in dire need of teachers."

College Registrar Margaret Wilson said some specialties will be particularly hard hit. "Employers in this province will be alarmed to learn that one-third of Ontario’s qualified secondary-level technology teachers are due to retire in the next five years. There are only 77 future replacements for these teachers currently registered in teacher education programs at Ontario universities – that’s to replace over 1,500 teachers who will retire by 2003. Tech ed is definitely going to suffer and programs may be cancelled because we won’t have qualified teachers.

"The shortage of qualified French teachers has long been a problem for Ontario school boards. The College’s study shows that while French teachers are on average younger than their English counterparts, a sufficient number will retire over the next five to 10 years to turn what has been a serious problem for school boards across the province into a crisis.

"Retirement numbers for French teachers show we have a problem, particularly in northern and eastern Ontario - more than 800 teachers over five years and 1,700 over 10 years will retire in eastern Ontario. In the north, the numbers are cause for concern as well, with close to 600 retiring over five years and 1,200 over 10 years.

"The most critical subjects at the secondary level include Technological Studies, Math, Sciences, and Special Education. In Math and Science in particular, faculties of education have difficulty attracting the number of candidates that they can train. At the elementary level, French-as-a-second-language, Special Education and the French language system are problems.

"With almost 15,000 secondary teachers retiring within five years across the province, the situation is just as precarious in core subjects like English, History and Geography. We definitely have to encourage students with an interest in those subjects to seriously consider a career as a teacher," said Wilson.

"Our study also underlines a problem that many in education have already identified – a serious shortage of leaders for our schools, as 44 per cent of teachers with principal qualifications retire within five years and 64 per cent within 10 years."

Wilson said, "There are a number of reasons we find ourselves in this situation. The wave of teachers hired in the ‘60s is now retiring. Unfortunately, they’re retiring as the children of the baby boom echo are going through the school system. As well, there have been relatively few opportunities for new teachers. That situation has now changed but the number of graduates applying to faculties of education has dropped from 20,000 to 8,000 in just eight years."

The College of Teachers is a self-governing body created in 1996 to regulate the teaching profession in the public interest. It licenses teachers, establishes teaching qualifications, sets professional standards for teachers, and accredits education program providers and programs.

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