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In reply to a question in the Dáil last week about JobBridge internships being used to supplement teachers, Minister Ruari Quinn declared: “an awful lot of young people are going into teaching so that they can emigrate”.
This is an incredibly ill-founded claim to make, and there is no doubt that if the minister were to ask Final Year students in the Teacher Training Colleges or the Higher Diploma in Education students at university their reason for choosing a career in teaching, that their desire to emigrate would be a complete non-starter as an answer.
Is the minister seriously suggesting that students, when filling out their CAO forms, will put down teaching as their preferred choice of career, so that when they qualify in three or four years’ time they will want to be able to say: ‘Hooray! Now we can emigrate’.
These newly-qualified teachers, who either themselves, or more likely their parents, will have spent upwards of €20,000 to become qualified, and will want to remain in Ireland to establish a career, and in so doing to recoup some of their financial outlay. One of our daughters is a qualified primary teacher, with a Master of Arts degree, and she is struggling to find employment.
Their are two main reasons why newly-qualified teachers, many through no choice of their own, may be forced to emigrate. Firstly, each year the teacher training colleges, and the Higher Dip, in Education courses, take in a new cohort of trainees for an already over-supplied job market — it is time to impose a substantial reduction in this yearly intake. Secondly, the problem of oversupply has become exacerbated by the entry into the jobs market of people who have given up careers as engineers, accountants, architects, etc, and who have pursued an online internet course to achieve a qualification to teach.
I believe that it is now time for courageous political decisions to be made to address the situation, and I would appeal to Minister Quinn, and his Government, to act accordingly.
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