Too many teachers, too few teaching positions

Waikato principals are receiving up to 100 applications for each teaching position advertised, as graduates battle for employment in what one education expert is calling the toughest job market in more than a generation.

Waikato University dean of education Roger Moltzen says it is time the Government looked at tertiary education providers limiting the number of enrolments in courses based on job prospects for graduates.

"I don't think you'll find providers in New Zealand saying we should be cutting back the number."

He said the current job market for teachers was the most competitive and challenging it had been in more than 40 years.

"There's little doubt that it's much more competitive and our graduates are taking, on average, longer to enter permanent positions."

There were 326 Bachelor of Teaching graduates from Waikato University last year, and 334 who completed a Graduate Diploma of Teaching.

That's 660 graduates entering the job market in a region that currently has just 35 early childhood, primary and secondary teaching vacancies, according to the Education Gazette website.

Many of those positions are fixed-term, part-time, or for experienced teachers.

Deanwell School principal Pat Poland said there was an oversupply of graduate teachers and he had about 100 applications for one beginning teacher position.

"Ninety-nine beginning teachers I'm saying no to and that just breaks my heart because, being a father of four daughters, I know how distressing it is being refused all the time."

But while teaching positions are thin on the ground at the moment, the situation is likely to be reversed inside the next decade.

Waikato University research predicts a primary teacher shortage by 2019 as rolls increase and a large cohort of teachers retire, which will have a flow-on effect in secondary schools.

Education Ministry figures show there will be 44,500 more primary pupils by 2019 than there were in 2011, requiring an extra 1150 teachers by 2016.

And demographic data shows the number of teachers aged over 60 has more than doubled to about 6000 since 2005.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said all job markets had been affected by the global financial crisis, but the Government would not look at limiting enrolments to courses based on employment forecasts because it was too difficult to make accurate predictions.

"Not so long ago there was a shortage of trained teachers and, of course, at this stage we have too many according to some measures."

He said ministry figures showed about 85 per cent of teaching graduates were employed as teachers after one year.

The Government was working to improve the quality of information about the job market so that students can make more educated choices, he said.

Insoll Avenue School principal Linda McCabe said Waikato graduates were facing more competition from jobseekers across the country. The last listed vacancy received 80 applications.

"We did have quite a large number from Hamilton, but maybe a third of the applications were from the wider North Island area.

"I think they are applying for anything and everything. It's tough out there."

Ministry student achievement deputy secretary Rowena Phai said the number of teachers leaving the profession remained flat after falling to a 10-year low in 2010-11.

Waikato Times