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Thousands of teachers scramble to find jobs

26-07-2007

Thousands of teachers scramble to find jobs

26/07/2007 The Irish News


The scramble for jobs is growing even more frantic for teachers with more staff than ever out of full-time work.

Young teachers' prospects are growing bleaker and proposed changes to lucrative pension payments for those nearing retirement threaten to make the situation even worse.

There are now more than 7,000 qualified teachers who are not employed full-time in schools.

Falling pupil numbers and school closures are blamed for contributing to the crisis.

A reduction in student numbers in Northern Ireland's teacher training colleges has yet to make a significant impact.

In the last academic year hundreds more teachers joined the race for jobs.

Research by the General Teaching Council (GTCNI) reveals there are now 7,055 registered teachers out of permanent work, compared to 6,355 last year.

Some of these are retired teachers who can no longer work but who choose to stay on the register.

However, the majority are substitute staff, many of whom are unemployed for long periods.

Separate figures reveal that almost 4,000 teachers who have 'subbed' during the last two years have still not been employed full-time.

This was disclosed in response to an assembly question by Stormont education committee member chairman Dominic Bradley.

Unions warned that jobs would get more scarce and the age profile of the profession would grow older in coming years.

Premature retirement compensation, offered to about 400 teachers taking voluntary redundancy each year, is being cut.

It is expected that the loss of this incentive - which can add seven years to teachers' pensions - will encourage more staff in their fifties to continue working.

Eddie McArdle, GTCNI registrar, said many of the teachers without full-time jobs are not seeking long-term employment, preferring instead to work as subs.

He said the 7,000 included retired and peripatetic teachers and those who are qualified but choose not to work in schools.

"It is our belief that there is a significant number of these who would not accept a full-time job," he said.

However, Mr Bradley said he was alarmed by the numbers of sub teachers who could not secure continuous employment.

"We need to get these young teachers into the education system on a full-time basis as soon as possible," he said.

He said all newly-qualified teachers should be guaranteed one year of employment which is the case in Scotland.

He said time set aside for planning, preparation and assessment, which has been introduced in Wales and England, would also create jobs.

"These measures, if introduced, will increase the chances of long- term employment for newly qualified teachers, and that is what we want to achieve," he said.

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