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New elementary teachers face tight job market, says College of Teachers

November 27 2006

November 27, 2006 (Toronto) - Newly certified elementary teachers have to wait up to three years to land full-time jobs, says a study released today by the Ontario College of Teachers.

However, French-language teachers have their pick of jobs as do many specialists in math, chemistry, physics and technological studies, the College's annual Transition to Teaching study shows.

This is the fifth year of the study, which is funded by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education. In 1998, the College's research predicted a critical shortage of teachers in Ontario. Eight years on, the pendulum has swung the other way for English-language elementary teachers.

The study reveals that:

  • only 25 per cent of the non-French, primary-junior teachers outside the Greater Toronto Area found full-time jobs by the end of their first year teaching
  • one-third of all newly certified teachers worked as supply teachers (daily, occasional)
  • one in five new teachers worked in two or more schools.

In contrast, 71 per cent of the teachers qualified to teach in French found regular jobs by spring in their first year and two-thirds of qualified physics, math and tech studies teachers secured full-time work.

"This information is critical to individuals deciding on careers in teaching," says Brian McGowan, Registrar of the teaching profession's licensing body. "You can improve your employment prospects by knowing the areas of greatest need."

Internationally educated teachers continue to have difficulty finding employment. Many cannot find full-time work and rely on occasional teaching assignments, even if they hold qualifications in the high-demand subject areas.

Don Cattani, Chair of the College Council, said the College hopes that policy makers who fund and shape the programs that prepare teachers will take a hard look at the data. “We need to ensure that teacher education programs prepare teachers who can fill the needs of our education system. We also need to improve the employment picture of licensed teachers who are new Canadians. The College has certified them to teach in Ontario, but far too many remain underemployed."

For new teachers who got jobs, late hiring, fragmented teaching schedules, difficult assignments and little or no support persisted for most new teachers last year. Fifty-nine per cent were hired after school began – 19 per cent in September and 40 per cent later in the school year.

For the fifth year in a row, new teachers reported they were disappointed by the lack of systematic orientation and support in their first year. The survey confirms the importance of the new, government-funded teacher induction program, which kicks into full effect in all Ontario school boards this year and is expected to help address this need.  

The good news is that teachers are resilient. Only three of the 1,300 new teachers polled said they intended to quit teaching. Fully 92.6 per cent said they planned to teach in Ontario next year.

The College mailed surveys in May 2006 to 40 per cent of the 8,223 Ontario faculty of education graduates in 2005 and to 40 per cent of the 1,203 graduates from teacher education programs at six US border colleges. Thirty-two per cent 1,289) responded. The survey results are considered accurate within 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Transition to Teaching study also includes a survey of teachers educated in other provinces and countries as well as surveys of teachers in their first five years in the profession after graduation. The large-scale study reports on findings from 4,130 survey returns overall.

The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the profession of teaching in the public interest. It sets standards of practice and ethical standards, conducts disciplinary hearings and accredits teacher education programs affecting its 206,000 members in publicly funded schools and institutions across Ontario. The College is the largest self-regulatory body in Canada.

For more information:
Brian Jamieson 416-961-8800, ext. 655
Toll-free 1-888-534-2222, ext. 655

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