By Frank McIntyre
A study by the Ontario College of Teachers shows that the
profession must prepare for a massive turnover in the provinces teaching population.
The Colleges databank shows that an astonishing 41,000 teachers will retire in just
five years and more than 78,000 of the Colleges 171,500 members will reach
retirement age over the next 10 years.
Ontarios school boards are already scrambling as teacher shortages begin to
emerge in specialized areas French as a Second Language, Maths, Sciences, secondary
technology subjects and teachers able to provide leadership in the uses of computers in
our schools. These current staffing pressures are just the leading edge of much deeper and
more widespread shortages that could emerge as the fast-growing wave of teacher
retirements engulfs boards across the province over the next decade.
The Colleges regulatory role includes alerting the profession to teacher
shortages that may emerge across the province. Unexpected shortages and inadequate
planning could severely limit the capacity of boards and independent schools to recruit
appropriately-qualified teachers for Ontarios classrooms. Such shortages could
impinge on programs and ultimately affect quality of education.
STUDY A FIRST
For the first time ever in the history of forecasting teacher supply and demand, the
College registry allows us to look at the entire supply of Ontario certified teachers.
Whether actively working or not, living in Ontario or elsewhere, employed as a teacher or
otherwise, in publicly-funded or independent schools, teaching full-time, part-time or
supply, everyone certified to teach in Ontario is recorded in the College registry.
The College has examined the age distribution of the 171,500 teachers in good standing
with the College as of September 1998, with particular attention to the 164,500 teachers
who have Certificates of Qualification and live in Ontario.
The unique age structure and sharply rising rate of retirement among Ontario teachers
is well documented. The new 85-factor retirement incentive available until the close of
2002 is further accelerating the retirement rate among Ontario teachers. The Ontario
Teachers Pension Plan Board reports that more than 10,000 teachers had decided to
retire by October this year.
A return to 90-factor retirements in 2003 would slow the retirement rate for a time for
those who miss this special retirement window. But even if this does happen, incentives to
retire at 55 or shortly thereafter under the regular provisions of the pension plan will
remain compelling for many teachers. High rates of retirement will continue until the
teachers of the hiring boom in the 1960s have retired and the much smaller cohorts of
teachers hired in the 1970s reach retirement age toward the end of the first decade of the
In this College study, we project Ontario teacher retirements at five-year (2003) and
10-year (2008) intervals. Certification categories, teaching subjects and region of
Ontario residence are all examined to draw out possible staffing implications across the
province. The study demonstrates clearly that the profession must prepare today for a
massive turnover in the Ontario teacher population.
Our analysis does not consider employment status. The population studied is all
teachers with Ontario certification, a group that is much larger than those employed as
full-time teachers in publicly-funded school boards. Nevertheless, given the share of the
registered teachers who are currently employed as teachers, boards should anticipate
retirement attrition at both elementary and secondary levels of about one in four teachers
over five years and one in two by 10 years from now.
WHOLE PROVINCE AFFECTED
All regions of the province are affected by the impending supply problem. We looked at
the home addresses of College-registered teachers and examined the age distribution of
teachers in six broad regions of the province Central, Eastern, Southwestern,
Northern and Northwestern Ontario, as well as Toronto. Although there is some variation,
the pattern of one in four retirements in five years and one in two in 10years holds for
every region of the province. For the north, south, east and west, an operating assumption
must be that one-half of all qualified teachers will retire by 2008.
FRENCH A PROBLEM AREA
The shortage of qualified French teachers has long been a problem for Ontario school
boards. Boards that are under pressure to meet parent demand for French programs should
not take any comfort from the fact that teachers with French as a First Language basic
certification are somewhat younger than the teacher population as a whole.
The five-year retirement projection for this group is approaching one in five and the
ten-year projection shows a little more than one in three French First Language teachers
More than 1,800 French First Language certified teachers are to retire by 2003 and
3,700 by 2008. For Eastern and Northern Ontario, where the greatest number of
French-language teachers reside, the 10-year retirement rate is closer to 40 per cent,
with 2,900 teachers retiring over the decade in these regions.
French First Language certified teachers are also a source for French as a Second
Language teachers in English-language district school boards. Demand for these teachers
from both language systems is already outstripping supply. As well, some teachers with
French First Language certification take up English language positions.
There are fewer than 450 French First Language candidates enrolled in 1998 in
Ontarios faculties of education. Without a change in demand, or a quick turnaround
in enrolments, the short supply already felt by many boards will quickly become a major
staffing problem for English and French-language boards alike.
The age distribution of secondary level Technology teachers reveals an earlier than
normal retirement peak. More than 1,500 one in three secondary Technology
teachers are expected to retire in just five years. Nearly 2,500, or 52 per cent, retire
in 10 years.
CORE SUBJECTS ALSO SUFFER
Most core secondary school teaching subjects are heading for the same extraordinary
10-year turnover. History, Mathematics, Geography, Science, and English are all heading
into a decade that will see about four in 10 Junior-Intermediate or Intermediate-Senior
teachers with these qualifications retire.
The decade will bring the retirement of 6,300 secondary English teachers, 5,200
teachers of History, and a huge turnover in many other core subjects: Science4,500,
Physical and Health Education4,100, Mathematics3,600, Geography2,900 and
For the time being, the greater numbers of general subjects teachers provides staffing
flexibility that eases secondary principals ability to adjust to retirements.
Nevertheless, the retirement rates are so high in History, English and Geography that the
teaching profession should encourage high school and university students with these
subject interests to look at teaching as a great career opportunity.
Ontario teacher education was not well-prepared for the teacher hiring blitz required
for the school enrolment explosion in the 1960s. As we approach the dawn of the new
century, there is little excuse to be caught off guard in planning assumptions.
The 85-factor early retirement program is assisting the profession with adjustment to
the profound policy changes that are under way, especially in our high schools. At the
same time, the accelerating retirement rate adds to boards future recruitment
Past teacher surpluses and some of the changes under way in Ontario education have
brought interest in teaching careers to an artificially low level. Teacher education
applicants to Ontario faculties of education grew slightly in 1998 from a recent historic
low in 1997. As teacher-hiring news replaces teacher-layoff news over the next few years,
interest in the profession may rebound.
EMERGING PRINCIPAL SHORTAGES
Retirements of teachers with principal qualifications are growing at a faster rate than
the general teacher population. As would be expected, principal qualifications and
principalships are often achieved when one is well into a teaching career. Our study
reveals that 44 per cent of teachers with principals qualifications are likely to
retire within five years and fully 64 per cent within a decade.
Frank McIntyre is the Ontario College of Teachers human resources consultant. He
will be reporting on other aspects of teacher supply and demand in future issues. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org