Student teachers told to go overseas

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 15/10/2012

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Primary teaching students are being encouraged to leave New Zealand when they graduate because only one in five will land jobs at home.

Victoria University teaching diploma students were told that although there would be plenty of jobs towards the end of the decade, the current situation was gloomy.

The bombshell was dropped by an Education Ministry-contracted speaker, who advised students at a seminar last week to go overseas for work as there would be jobs for only 20 per cent of them.

The students also heard that only 40 per cent of new teachers would get full-time permanent roles within three years of graduating and that most new graduates would work only in temporary or relieving roles in the first few years of teaching.

It was one of many nationwide seminars run by the ministry to advise students and graduates about New Zealand's teaching job market.

The latest job prospect statistics shocked Victoria's teaching students, who have taken to venting their concerns on a Facebook group page.

One student, who contacted The Dominion Post but did not want to be named fearing it would taint her already slim career prospects, said she was now considering moving to Melbourne.

"The Ministry of Education representative said they'd rather we head offshore for a job than give up looking altogether.

"We all knew it was going to be hard to get a job, but we didn't know how s... the statistics are."

She wondered why they were not told about the situation before they paid the $7000 course fees, and questioned the university's ethics in letting so many students into the course when more than half would not get teaching jobs in New Zealand.

A new teacher is usually granted a provisional registration, but is expected to meet certain criteria and gain full registration within three years. This can be extended to six years with a valid reason.

Teaching work overseas can count towards full registration in New Zealand, which requires at least two years of work under the supervision of a mentor teacher.

Victoria University Education Pro Vice-Chancellor Dugald Scott said the department did look "broadly" at how many teachers were needed when selecting students, but it was impossible to be precise.

New Zealand Educational Institute chief executive Ian Leckie said the ministry should be protecting the new teachers it had helped train, not pack them off overseas. Job prospects for new teachers were not as grim as portrayed, especially if they were prepared to move to smaller towns, he said.

It had always been difficult for new teachers to find their first job and there was a real argument for more support for new graduates.

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When a teacher left for oversees they would gain experience, but within a different educational system, Mr Leckie said.

"I'm really disappointed to hear that anyone contracted to the ministry is telling teachers to go overseas."

Education Ministry workforce group manager Rebecca Elvy said the ministry had made it clear to the teaching profession and training organisations that vacancies for fulltime permanent teachers would remain low for the next few years.

But teacher shortages would still remain in areas like Maori language.

"The ministry is committed to measures that will deliver skilled teachers to areas where they are needed.

"This includes informing the next generation of teachers about the employment environment they can expect when they graduate, and providing them with targeted job-find support."

- The Dominion Post

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