College Leads on Teacher Recruitment
"A study by the Ontario College of Teachers shows that the profession must prepare for a massive turnover in the province’s teaching population. The College’s register shows that an astonishing 41,000 teachers will retire
in just five years and more than 78,000 of the College’s 171,500 members will reach retirement age over the next
By Brian Jamieson
The clarion call for new teachers rang out loudly five years ago as new data warned of looming shortages. Today, the teacher-supply issue persists and the College is stepping up its efforts to entice new members to join the profession.
In February, the College launched a series of streamed videos on its web site four in English, four in French to encourage high school and university students to consider a career in teaching. The Be A Teacher videos identify opportunities, highlight teachers already in active service and point to the many rewards of teaching today.
Barbara Taylor, a principal and one of the featured educators in the series, says: "Its an amazing time to become a teacher because of the changes throughout education. New policies and curricula are being developed. New teachers are coming in with new ideas. Education is a field where there is always growth."
In addition to their availability on the College web site (go to http://www.oct.ca/publications/becoming-a-teacher_e.asp), CD copies of the videos have been distributed to Human Resources Development Canada career-counselling centres across Ontario, the Council of Ontario Universities, other career-counselling services and a variety of education stakeholders.
As well, the College has updated its Thinking About Becoming A Teacher? brochure, one of the most popular information items on the web site, to complement the videos.
The video series is one of a number of new and ongoing recruitment initiatives.
In March, the College partnered with the Ontario Teachers Federation, the Council of Ontario Directors of Education, the Ontario Association of Deans of Education and the Ministry of Education in another awareness and recruitment drive.
The ministry allocated $500,000 to finance the "Be the Spark" campaign directed toward third and fourth-year math and science students at various Ontario universities in teaching careers.
Vibrant "Be the Spark" posters dotted campuses of several Ontario universities throughout April, buttressing a larger campaign that included advertisingon public transit and in both campus and mainstream press. A related web site (www.teachingontario.ca), providing answers to common questions and information regarding teaching opportunities, remains active until November.
"The College has a vested interest in attracting the brightest and best people to the profession. It is part of our mandate to ensure that students in all Ontario classrooms have a qualified, certified teacher at the front," says College Registrar Doug Wilson. "Its encouraging to see the ministry funding this collaborative effort."
In 1998, the College released a study showing how the shortage of qualified teachers would affect schools in every part of the province. Forecasts projected that half the provinces teachers would need to be replaced between 1998 to 2008. In 2001, the College noted that retirements continued to soar and the shortage showed no signs of slowing.
The most recent College statistics and the Ministry of Educations Work Group Study on Teacher Supply and Demand indicate that Ontario will need to hire upwards of 9,000 teachers each year for the next seven years just to replace those who will retire or are on leave. Particular areas of need include mathematics, science, French, special education, computer and technological studies.
Since the late 1990s, the College has continued and increased its efforts to attract new practitioners and raise the profile of the profession. Outreach has included visits to Ontario faculties of education and participation in career fairs around the province.
When these efforts began, College staff attended one or two events a year and the focus was on job placements.
In 2002, College representatives staffed information booths at 16 career fairs to provide career information, reaching between 500 and 2,000 people per site.
Attendees at these fairs included high school students thinking about teaching as a career, people trained as teachers outside Ontario and individuals considering a career change.
College outreach staff visited accredited faculty programs in Ontario and at the University of McGill in Montreal to explain the registration process to pre-service teacher candidates. The December-through-February tour briefed 500 to 1,000 prospective teachers per visit on the role of the College and the process of certification.
The College has also responded to an explosion of requests by non-profit agencies to speak with foreign-trained teachers about registration requirements in Ontario. Seventeen presentations were made last year.
New immigrants, who have been certified to teach in other countries and want to become certified in Ontario, frequently hear from the College at presentations for the Newcomer Information Centre, the Career Employment Research Program, Skills for Change, and COSTI.
In a typical year, the College issues teaching certificates to about 900 people who received their teaching training outside of Canada (not including Ontario residents who choose to attend teacher education programs in U.S. border colleges).
The Colleges efforts to address the issue of teacher shortages now also extends to facilitating connections between prospects and employers.
Last fall, the College added a Teach Ontario feature to its web site, providing links to three of the top online services that list job opportunities in the education sector. The page links to Education Canada, Jobs in Education and Workopolis, making it easier for boards to advertise openings and teachers to scout them.
To see the Colleges Thinking About Becoming A Teacher videos and brochure, visit http://www.oct.ca/publications/becoming-a-teacher_e.asp.
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