Half of new teachers ‘see their future elsewhere’ unless pay parity restored

Almost half of new entrants to post-primary teaching do not think they will be in the profession in 10 years’ time — but if pay parity with their longer-serving colleagues is restored almost all believe they would remain.

Ahead of its conference which begins in Wexford later today, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has surveyed 376 of its members who have entered the profession since 2011 about their current experiences, “pay discrimination”, as well as their perception of the profession.

In response to the question, “At the moment, how likely do you think it is that you will still be working in the teaching profession in ten years’ time?”, 46% said it is either unlikely or very unlikely.

Yet when asked whether they are likely to be still working in the profession in 10 years’ time “if pay equality was to be fully restored”, 94% said it is either likely or very likely.

Unions have estimated that teachers who qualified since 2011 have already lost up to €30,000 each due to their reduced pay rates and that they will earn reduced pay throughout their teacher careers amounting to well over €100,000 by the time they reach retirement age.

TUI president, Joanne Irwin, pointed out that just a year ago, only 29% of respondent said they did not see themselves in the profession in 10 years.

“The situation has deteriorated significantly, with 46% now seeing their futures elsewhere,” she said. “This is wholly consistent with an ever-worsening recruitment and retention crisis that all stakeholders, with the exception of the minister and his department, have acknowledged and highlighted.”

Furthermore, only one in five of the respondents (22%) received a contract of full hours in their first year of teaching. Ms Irwin said that confirms that most second-level teachers, who get their first teaching post at an average age of 26 “and are often saddled with debt after six years of study, earn just a fraction of the starting salary that the minister so regularly quotes”.

While over 80% of respondents said they enjoy the day-to-day work of teaching, a similar percentage either agree or strongly agree with the sentiment that “bureaucratic duties regularly deflect from my core role of teaching”. Furthermore, 93% either agree or strongly agree with the statement, “the morale of teachers has fallen in recent years”.

Ms Irwin said it is worrying but not surprising that 52% of respondents would not advise a younger relative to go into teaching: “These findings make clear the severe damage that pay discrimination has wreaked on teacher morale and on the education system.”

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