Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Auckland faces a shortage of teachers, nurses and police officers

Auckland could be facing a shortage of teachers, nurses and police officers if the city's house prices continue to rise beyond their means. Photo / Doug Sherring
Auckland could be facing a shortage of teachers, nurses and police officers if the city's house prices continue to rise beyond their means. Photo / Doug Sherring

Auckland could face a shortage of teachers, paramedics and other essential staff if the city's house prices continue to rise beyond their means.

Already schools in the city are struggling to fill staffing gaps, or even find relievers. Other services expect staffing levels to follow suit if nothing changes.

The Auckland Principals Association's June survey found 220 vacancies across 168 of the 240 Auckland schools that responded to the survey. The association said there were 480 schools in total in the city.

ARE YOU A TEACHER, NURSE OR POLICE OFFICER LOOKING TO MOVE OUT OF AUCKLAND? EMAIL corazon.miller@nzherald.co.nz

President Diane Manners said the housing crisis was affecting mid-career teachers the most. "Once they hit the five- to eight-year band, decide to start a family and look to purchase a house we are losing them to either to the outer peripherals of the city or to other parts of the country.

"It's extremely difficult to attract people to Auckland. Salaries aren't going to position them in the market."

May Road School principal Lynda Stuart said fellow principals had noticed a marked increase in the difficulty of recruiting teachers even in just the past three or four months.

"They're also really struggling to get relievers because relievers are now taking full-time positions," she said.

Schools unable to fill vacant roles were merging classes, having teachers share workloads and had members of the leadership team looking at going back into full-time teaching.

The Ministry of Education's acting head of early learning and student achievement Karl Le Quesne said there were a number of strategies to address the shortage, including recruitment drives to bring Kiwi teachers home from overseas.

"We've been meeting regularly with Auckland principals and other education leaders to keep them updated on this work, and to develop further solutions."

The New Zealand Ambulance Association chairman Mark Quin said there wasn't a shortage of paramedics in Auckland yet, but believed this could change.

"Whether you live in Auckland or Invercargill the salary of a paramedic is the same, so obviously with the cost of living, cost of a mortgage, one would be better off in Invercargill or similar on the same sort of wage."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said it was becoming "completely unaffordable for the people who make our communities function to live in our country's biggest city".

He said when the median house price was almost 15 times the annual income of teachers, nurses and police officers it wasn't surprising they'd look to buy outside of the city.

As of June 2016 REINZ data put the median Auckland house price at $821,000.

The salary range for teachers was between $46,000 and $72,000, for nurses it was between $47,000 and $64,000 (with 1-5 years' experience), paramedics $58,000 to $72,000 and police officers (1-4 years' experience), $53,000 to $58,000.

However, Police National Headquarters said it hadn't noticed any issue with staffing as a result of Auckland's housing market.

"The number of constabulary employees in the Auckland region is at full strength, with more recruits due to be posted to the Auckland region on graduation."

The numbers

Out of 240 schools that responded to the survey, 168 needed new staff for term three vacancies.

Auckland house prices

As at last month, the median house price was $821,000, according to REINZ.

Salaries

Teachers

$46,000 to $72,000

Nurses

$47,000 to $64,000 (with 1-5 years' experience)

Police

$53,000 to $58,000 (with 1-4 years' experience)

Paramedics

$58,000 to $72,000

Salary figures from careers.govt.nz

- NZ Herald

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