NEWLY-qualified teachers are applying for jobs in Britain, Dubai and New Zealand with up to half of this year’s graduates unable to find temporary or permanent posts, according teachers’ unions.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has described the situation as “very serious” while the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) struck a more positive note: believing graduates could expect more positions to come on stream due to the 400 extra high grade teachers seeking early retirement over the next year.
As part of government cutbacks announced last October, the Minister for Education announced cuts in overall teacher numbers as the child teacher ratio was set to rise. Student unions representatives at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick confirmed there was a sharp increase in graduates seeking to complete a Masters degree in Education due to these funding cuts.
ASTI Secretary John White said there is a great danger that “we will lose more of these bright keen teachers next year. Many will stay around to try and make a living for the year but will go abroad for work next year.”
Peter Mullan of the INTO said he has heard anecdotally of up to 500 applicants, from as far afield as West Cork, applying for one position in Drogheda, County Louth.
“Things are very serious. We are seeing the affect of the October cutbacks. Anecdotally, we are hearing that there is a serious number of graduates without jobs. We’re not trying to gather formal data. This situation is even more serious when you realise we have the second highest class sizes in Europe. We’ve been through this scenario in the 1980s when our graduates went to Britain and the US and then we had a teacher shortage about five years later. It looks like we’re heading back in that direction.”
Eoin Bolger graduated from St Patrick’s in Dublin last year and said that jobs are very hard to get.
“Traditionally men found it easier to pick up posts but they are having problems too. I know many people who have gone on the dole as they can’t pick up work here. Others are going to Dubai where they can be paid €24,000 for the year tax free.”
It’s estimated that up to 1,200 teachers graduated this year from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Marino and Froebel Colleges in Dublin. This figure also includes graduates from the Church of Ireland College of Education and the online Hibernian College.
Orla Cunningham is Students Union President at Mary Immaculate College. She said that temporary positions are like gold dust.
“It is very hard. I think most of the men who did the Bachelor of Education have got jobs but most of those are just covering maternity leave. Out of the 460 that graduated here, I would say at most 200 have positions for the months ahead. It is very difficult as we all need to do a year’s probation work after graduation before we are 100% qualified teachers. If this continues, many won’t be able to get probationary work here.”
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