Teachers told: We will need you again

By Joseph Aldridge

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New graduate teachers forced to go overseas to find a job will be in hot demand in their own country within a couple of years, a Tauranga teacher education boss says.

Primary teaching students at Victoria University in Wellington were recently told only 20 per cent were likely to find a job in New Zealand when they graduated.

The bad news was delivered by a Ministry of Education-contracted speaker who encouraged the students to look for work overseas.

Waikato University Faculty of Education Associate Dean Beverley Cooper acknowledged there was a current glut of teachers but said within three years there could be a shortage.

"I would say that quality graduates will always find themselves a job. However, I think that at the moment, because of a whole lot of circumstances, there aren't the volume of jobs advertised as what we would have anticipated at this time."

Population trends and Ministry of Education allocated staffing had been factors affecting the availability of jobs for new graduates, Ms Cooper said.

New graduates had to be prepared to move out of the Bay of Plenty, possibly to a rural area, and accept relieving positions in their first few years of teaching, she said

But population projections provided by the Ministry showed increased birth rates would soon flow through to create growing primary school rolls and new positions for graduates.

By 2019, there will be 44,000 more primary students in New Zealand than there were last year and schools will need about 1150 additional teachers by 2016.

"We anticipate that New Zealand could actually be facing a teacher shortage in the next few years because of the staffing required to cope with the student increase," Ms Cooper said.

Large numbers of retiring teachers could also free up jobs for new grads, she said.

More than 6000 teachers nationwide were over 60 at the beginning of this year and, while it was not known exactly how long they would stay at school, it was likely that many would retire in the next few years.

"Teaching is an important, rewarding and highly sought-after profession and current data shows well-trained, enthusiastic teachers are likely to be in continuous demand for some time to come."

Western Bay of Plenty Principals' Association President Robert Hyndman said Tauranga schools generally always had many applicants to choose from because Tauranga was a desirable place to live.

"There's been times when you could advertise for a job and you've got 50, 60 applicants. Some might say that's a great thing [in that there's a lot of choice] but in terms of doing each applicant justice, it's a big job."

Mr Hyndman suggested teachers skilled in Te Reo Maori were perennially in demand.

Maungatapu School principal Sue Horne said finding qualified teachers for the school's full immersion Maori language unit was a lot more difficult than finding teaching staff for the mainstream school.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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