An urgent appeal has been issued for teachers to correct Leaving and Junior Cert exam papers with less than a fortnight to go before the examinations begin.
Examiners are urgently needed for nine Leaving Cert and 10 Junior Cert subjects in what has become an almost annual emergency.
The exams begin on June 5 and recruits have to be ready to provide almost four weeks of full-time work beginning June 11 at the earliest when the first of a series of training sessions take place.
Ideally, applicants should be teachers or retired teachers but others with third-level qualifications will be considered. Payment varies depending on the subject, level and length of paper but rates go from just under €5 to over €30 per paper.
The State Examinations Commission (SEC) said the rates were being increased by 2% this year and the pension-related deduction, which usually takes 10.5% off, is being scrapped.
Subjects with pressing shortages are Leaving Cert Business, French, German, English, geography, Spanish and home economics, and Junior Cert maths, science, Irish, German, Spanish, history, geography, business, home economics, religion and CSPE.
But applicants in all other subjects are also being invited to apply to fill vacancies that are likely to arise when other applicants drop out.
Aidan Farrell, chief executive of the commission, appealed for help from teachers and other qualified applicants and urged them to apply without delay.
"With the co-operation and active engagement of all those interested in the smooth operation of the Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate examinations, we can ensure that the marking of this year's examinations will proceed on target and to the necessarily high standards," he said.
"Similar appeals in previous years have been responded to generously and we have every confidence that this will again be the case in 2019."
However, the fact that appeals have had to be made so close to exam time in previous years, and that non-teachers have to be used, has led teachers' unions to repeatedly call for a substantial increase in payment.
In 2016, frantic efforts to recruit examiners were still being made in the final week of June when virtually all the examinations had been completed.
The SEC also struggled to recruit in 2017 and 2018, and also for the oral exams early this year. Some 3,600 examiners are needed to correct the work of around 120,000 students each year.