Determined new teachers face increased wait times
by Frank McIntyre
Teachers need determination to succeed in the classroom. Increasingly, new Ontario teachers need even greater determination just to get into a classroom as the search for jobs – even part-time supply teaching – grows longer and longer for many of them.
Full employment was out of reach for most first-year Ontario teachers in the 2009–10 school year. The 2010 Transition to Teaching study found that almost one in four teacher education graduates of 2009 were not able to secure any teaching job, not even daily supply teaching. Many more say they got some work but were underemployed as teachers over the year. Fully two-thirds of new teachers now say they did not achieve their first-year employment goals.
Despite the slow start to their careers, most plan to stay in teaching in the next school year and expect they will be continuing with their teaching careers five years from now.
The job market for new teachers in Ontario continues the tightening trend reported over the past five years. First-year involuntary unemployment has grown from just three per cent in 2006 to 24 per cent by 2010 for graduates of Ontario universities and US border colleges surveyed in the spring of the year after certification. Underemployment rates for those who did find work in the first year rose from 27 to 43 per cent over the same period.
Only 26 per cent of new teachers with jobs in the 2009–10 school year report they have regular teaching contracts, down from 31 per cent for first-year teachers in the previous school year.
More than half of surveyed teachers in their second year of teaching now report they were underemployed or unemployed. Three out of five of the employed teachers in this group did not hold regular teaching contracts by the end of their second school year as teachers. Regular contracts for second-year teachers fell to 38 per cent in the 2009–10 school year, down from 48 per cent the year before. The queue for full employment continues to grow as wait times for jobs lengthen throughout the province.
I found it very challenging to find a teaching position. There is an overflow of teachers looking for work and not enough jobs available. Teachers who are getting hired have three to four years of supply experience before they can be hired full-time. Other jobs are only part-time.
Second-year part-time occasional teacher, southwest Ontario
More part-time, multi-school and daily supply teaching
As the Ontario teacher employment market tightens further each year, new graduates increasingly resort to piecing together partial appointments and daily supply teaching in more than one school or school board. Among those who find any teaching work in their first year, the numbers reporting part-time, multiple school and daily occasional teaching at the end of the first school year have risen steadily.
Of those who did find employment in 2009–10, 39 per cent were limited to daily supply teaching by year end, 43 per cent worked part-time and 39 per cent taught in more than one school.
I am supply teaching with two boards on both elementary and secondary occasional lists. I am one of the lucky ones. Working with two boards helps financially.
First-year junior-intermediate history graduate, southwest Ontario
The 2010 survey found that two out of three new graduates who were actively in the job market were either doing this type of piecework or could find no teaching employment of any kind.
Out-of-province teaching is a growing phenomenon given the greatly increased competition for Ontario jobs in recent years. New graduates working in other provinces and abroad doubled over the past three years. In 2010, one out of eight first-year teachers (13 per cent) said they were teaching elsewhere. The majority of them, however, viewed this as a temporary measure only, and said they plan on returning to teach in Ontario in the future.
It is very difficult to find any teaching positions in Ontario, even if your educational background is deemed “in demand” and you have Additional Qualifications.
First-year FSL-qualified Special Education teacher, Montréal
Temporary work in non-teaching jobs
With more recent graduates each year unable to find teaching jobs or finding only very limited supply teaching employment, increasing numbers of them turn to former occupations or take up non-teaching jobs each year to survive financially.
I currently work at a restaurant and, among our staff of 30, seven are teachers in the same situation as me. It’s very discouraging.
Unemployed primary-junior graduate, Hamilton
I was hired on an occasional teaching list and did not get called once. By January I was broke and barely able to make my student-loan payments, so I took a job as a research assistant and am starting graduate school.
Intermediate-senior sciences graduate, Toronto region
Job shortage spreads to French-language teachers
Following years of high demand, French-language teachers report poorer job outcomes this year, suggesting a trend that first appeared in last year’s surveys.
New graduates able to teach in French-language school boards or to teach French as a Second Language in English-language boards consistently report about 70 per cent success rates in finding regular jobs in their first year throughout most of the past decade. This rate dropped to 51 per cent in 2009 and fell further to 37 per cent in 2010. Although still experiencing more positive outcomes than English-language teachers (21 per cent of whom found regular jobs), new French-language teachers in Ontario no longer enjoy the consistently bright job prospects of earlier years.
I apply whenever a job is posted in Ontario; unfortunately, however, there are almost never any postings. In Québec I am an occasional teacher. But it would be preferable for me to find a job in Ontario.
Math and physics intermediate-senior graduate of Ontario
French-language teacher-education program in 2009
The majority of new French-language teachers in 2009–10 did achieve their employment goals. But involuntary unemployment rose to 14 per cent among French-language teachers, and 32 per cent of those with jobs say they were underemployed.
The French-language advantage fell across the board – for graduates of French-language programs, for new hires by French-language school boards and also for French as a Second Language teachers. In each of these groups, the majority did not find regular jobs in their first year of teaching.
I have not found a regular teaching job. It is as if more teachers are trained than are needed. I hope that this will change.
Junior-intermediate science, French-language program
graduate, supply teaching in Toronto
English-language job opportunities decline further
Involuntary unemployment rose sharply in 2010 for first-year English-language teachers. More than 30 per cent of these new teachers report that they were unable to find any teaching employment throughout the school year after they obtained their teaching licences. First-year primary-junior-certified teacher unemployment rose to 36 per cent in 2010 from 26 per cent the year before. Junior-intermediate unemployment increased to 33 from 21 per cent. And intermediate-senior teacher unemployment doubled to 30 from 15 per cent.
For those English-language teachers who did find some work in 2009–10, underemployment rates and daily supply teaching were up, as regular teaching contracts continued in the 15 to 30 per cent range across the divisions.
Volunteering as a networking strategy
Each year some new teachers say they perceive hiring success to be based on who you know in schools rather than what you know about teaching. With the job market tightening again this year, these comments are more frequent and are made both by those who attribute their success in securing a job to connections and by many others who say their lack of connections is why they are struggling to find work.
First-year teachers in 2010 refer much more frequently than in previous years to volunteering in schools as a networking strategy for making connections that may lead to a teaching job.
I applied for everything that I am qualified to teach, and I have not even received a call back for any interviews. I have an excellent portfolio, I have upgraded by taking Special Education, Part 1, and I have been volunteering every day in a Special Education class since February. I apply for positions at boards all over Ontario, and I have received no feedback.
Unemployed intermediate-senior teacher, central Ontario
Some say they would volunteer if they did not have to work full-time at another occupation to manage financially. Others say they maintained and developed their teaching skills through volunteering. Some point to volunteering as the key factor in their success in landing a first job.
It was very difficult. I applied to over 250 jobs and only caught a break when a teacher who I had volunteered with in the past recommended me for an interview.
Long-term occasional junior-intermediate history teacher, Toronto region
US border-college graduates outpaced in job market
First-year unemployment and underemployment rates rose further for border-college graduates. Fewer than one in 20 new Ontario teachers who obtained their education degrees from colleges in New York State and Maine say they were fully employed in their first year after obtaining their Ontario teaching licences. This compares with about one in three among Ontario university graduates.
For new US border-college graduates who found some form of teaching opportunity in the 2009–10 school year, about three in five (58 per cent) were doing daily supply teaching only at the year end. The daily supply teaching rate for Ontario graduates was 36 per cent. Some border-college graduates did appear settled by year-end, with 18 per cent of them reporting that they had secured regular teaching contracts.
I have done everything I can. I have volunteered, networked, canvassed schools and applied to more than one board and to private schools, and I still have no job. I am extremely depressed and don’t know what to do. I continue to apply for jobs as they are posted, but no luck yet.
Unemployed primary-junior-qualified US border-college graduate, Brampton
The annual number of new Ontario teachers from these border colleges declined from a high of about 1,750 in 2006 to fewer than 1,100 in 2010.
How long is the job queue?
The involuntary unemployment rate for first-year teachers has increased every year for the past five years. What was a three per cent unemployment rate in 2006 is now 24 per cent. For those who did some teaching in the first year, the underemployment rate also rose from 27 per cent in 2006 to 43 per cent in 2010.
The same pattern is evident across the early years of teaching. Each annual survey finds more unemployment and underemployment than the year before – and this increase is evident in each of the first five years of teaching careers. Since 2006, combined unemployment and underemployment rates have more than doubled for teachers in each of their first five years in the teaching employment market.
In the 2009–10 school year, unemployment or underemployment job status was the situation for:
- two out of three first-year teachers
- half of the second-year teachers
- one out of three third-year teachers
- one out of four fourth-year teachers
- one out of five fifth-year teachers.
Committed and confident new generation of teachers
Despite the delayed start to their teaching careers, most first-year teachers expect to stay in the market for teaching jobs in Ontario in their second year after graduation, and 85 per cent of them plan to be teaching five years from now.
Most of them describe their first year of teaching as positive, reporting the experience as excellent (32 per cent) or good (47 per cent) and their professional satisfaction as excellent (28 per cent) or good (40 per cent). Similar numbers report that their confidence level is excellent (29 per cent) or good (45 per cent). Almost half (48 per cent) give an unsatisfactory rating to their job security. And yet, almost four out of five (78 per cent) say they are optimistic for their professional future.
The process of obtaining a teaching position in the first year of my teaching career was much easier than I anticipated. Although I have not had a long-term occasional or contract position yet, I am happy just supplying in order to gain experience.
Primary-junior daily supply teacher, southwest Ontario
Similar satisfaction and determination were reported in the 2010 surveys of teachers in their second through fifth years following graduation.
New-Canadian teachers challenged in crowded market
The tight employment market continues to be especially difficult for new-Canadian teachers who lack experience and connections in Ontario schools. The 2010 survey of internationally educated teachers who immigrated to Canada and were licensed to teach in Ontario in 2009 found 68 per cent not able to obtain teaching jobs of any type. This rate is up substantially from 36 per cent the previous year and contrasts sharply with the 27 per cent unemployment rate for first-year Ontario faculty graduates in 2010.
In spite of my repeated personal visits and calls to boards, I am still unsuccessful in obtaining even a supply teaching position. I find this very, very frustrating. They are hiring teachers who are just out of teachers’ college or who are about to finish their teaching qualifications. Teaching is my passion. I cannot wait to contribute my creativity, knowledge, experience and taxes and make a contribution to my profession in Ontario.
Unemployed intermediate-senior-certified new-Canadian with experience teaching in India
Despite the fact that most of these new-Canadian teachers have teaching experience in other countries, they are not achieving their career goals in the first two years as licensed teachers in Ontario. Of those who actively seek teaching employment in the first year, 84 per cent are either unemployed or underemployed. And even by the end of their second year as licensed Ontario teachers, three-quarters of them are still involuntarily unemployed (54 per cent) or underemployed (20 per cent).
I came to Canada with the strong desire to continue my career within the shortest possible time. This did not materialize. There is a glut in the market for teachers. This put my efforts into further jeopardy. It is difficult to try to get Canadian experience as a volunteer teacher when you are a new immigrant with a family to maintain and do not have an income.
Unemployed new-Canadian teacher from Jordan, Ontario, certified in 2008
Despite the delays in getting their teaching careers restarted, about nine out of 10 new-Canadian teachers licensed by the College in 2008 and 2009 expect to continue as teachers in five years time.