The job market is getting even tougher for new teachers. But, as our 2011 Transition to Teaching survey has found, those aren't the only challenges. Read on to find out what it's like to be a new teacher in 2012.

by Frank McIntyre


More new teachers are unemployed in their first school year than ever before. Many of those with jobs are underemployed. And more are taking up alternate work, mainly as stopgap measures while they stay committed to getting established in their education careers.

Almost one in three education graduates of 2010 who looked for teaching jobs in the 2010–11 school year said they had no success at all. They could not even get supply teaching days in their first school year as Ontario Certified Teachers. The 2011 Transition to Teaching study also reports that almost half of those who did find some type of teaching job said that they were underemployed over the year. They could not get as much work as they wanted in teaching.

I have been lucky. I was hired by two school boards at the beginning of the school year. However, due to over hiring of supply teachers, I have only managed to supply two to three days a week between both boards.

Intermediate-senior supply teacher, 2010 graduate, southwestern Ontario

The combined unemployment and underemployment rate for first-year teachers (that is, members of the Ontario College of Teachers for the first year following graduation) has climbed from 30 per cent back in 2006 to 67 per cent today. And the unemployment rate increased tenfold, from three to 30 per cent.

Most of those who achieved some measure of job success were daily supply teaching or piecing together part-time and term contract jobs, often teaching in multiple schools. The entry job for three in five of them (58 per cent) was daily supply teaching, and by year-end most of those who were teaching held limited term contracts (39 per cent) or were still on daily supply lists (38 per cent).

Fewer than one in four (23 per cent) who found work as teachers secured regular teaching jobs. This is less than half the 47 per cent of first-year teachers reporting regular jobs six years ago and well below the 70 per cent level back in 2001 in the midst of the last teacher shortage.

Considering all first-year teachers, including those fully unemployed, only one in eight (13 per cent) of the 2010 graduates on the job market reported being in regular teaching positions. And one in four of these regular jobs are in independent schools.

Both elementary and secondary jobs hard to find

Teachers across all divisions are now affected by the tighter job market. Unemployment has increased to more than one in four teachers for every type of teacher certification.

Job outcomes in 2010—11 by division

Job outcomes




Technological education

Regular position





Daily supply teaching















Primary-junior-certified teachers experience the highest rate of unemployment, with two in five of them not able to find teaching jobs of any type.

The Ontario market also tightened for technological education teachers this year. More than one in four are unemployed, and more than half of those with jobs in the province are underemployed. They continue to get a somewhat higher rate of regular appointments than others.

Intermediate-senior teachers now have more limited success in first-year teaching jobs. Almost one in three are unemployed. Just one in four of them got regular jobs, and almost half of those with teaching jobs reported a year of underemployment.

"The teaching climate is very competitive right now. New teachers are competing against very experienced teachers. I hate to say that who you know is more important than what you know, but sadly this seems to be true."

Unemployed intermediate-senior 2010
computer studies graduate, eastern Ontario

Piecework teaching is increasingly common for first-year teachers. In 2010-11, almost half (45 per cent) of those who found work by the end of the school year reported it was part-time, and two in five (40 per cent) taught in multiple schools.

More new teachers leave the province or take up non-teaching jobs

About one in five first-year teachers (19 per cent) looked for teaching jobs in other provinces or abroad, and one in 10 reported they were teaching outside Ontario by year-end.

"I had to move because I couldn’t afford to pay rent and pay back my student loan from my minimum-wage-paying job in Ontario. I know that most of my classmates are in the same position, with many in low-paying retail and sales positions."

Intermediate-senior 2010
geography and English graduate

More first-year teachers are now working in non-teaching jobs, either as an alternative to teaching or to supplement part-time or supply teaching. New teachers working in other occupations grew sharply from six to 22 per cent over the past four years.

For most of them, however, their strong commitment to teaching continues—nine in 10 say they will be in teaching careers five years in the future.

Longer wait times for full employment

Every year new teachers face longer wait times for full employment. The 2011 surveys of the graduates of 2006 through 2010 show more teachers unemployed or underemployed than in previous surveys for each of the first five years in teaching careers.

"I expected to be a supply teacher for several years, but I did not anticipate not being able to get on a supply list at all. There are far too many graduates and not enough positions."

Unemployed 2009
second-career graduate, eastern Ontario

Between 2006 and 2011:

And survey reports in 2011 from the graduates of 2006, 2007 and 2008 reveal that they experienced unemployment in their early careers five to six times more frequently than those who graduated in 2000 into the robust employment market early in the last decade.

French-language teacher market sluggish but still ahead of English market

The effects of the weakening employment market are now felt by many French-language teachers.

Unemployment for graduates of French-language teacher education programs grew from 14 per cent in 2010 to 22 per cent in 2011. For those who are employed to a greater or lesser extent, underemployment rose from 28 to 36 per cent. And only about one in five of them secured regular teaching jobs.

French as a Second Language (FSL) teachers had more success in finding regular teaching jobs, and very few of them are unemployed. But many FSL teachers are now resorting to part-time teaching jobs in the first year.

Despite the steady decline in outcomes for French-language teachers over the past three years, they still outperform the more limited success of English-language teachers in the job market.

2011 job outcomes for French- and
English-language teachers


French-language program graduates

French as a Second Language teachers

English-language teachers









Regular contracts




New-Canadian-teacher job opportunities highly limited

Teachers who immigrate to Canada and gain teacher certification in Ontario have had considerable challenges in finding jobs throughout the past 10 years. Their job outcomes worsened further as the teacher shortage emerged in the middle of the last decade.

Now, most new Canadians in their first year following Ontario certification are unemployed. Three in four of them say they were on the job market and could find no teaching work at all, not even daily supply teaching. This rate is up from 68 per cent unemployment for this group in 2010 and is more than double the 36 per cent unemployment rate they reported in 2007. And, for the one in four new Canadians who did find some work as teachers, almost half (49 per cent) say they were underemployed.

"Considering the education and experience that I have and also taking into account my teaching subjects, I thought it would be much easier to find at least a supply teaching position."

Southwestern Ontario teacher
More than five years experience teaching science and math in Macedonia

Independent schools are an important source of employment for new-Canadian teachers. They provided 45 per cent of all the jobs found by new Canadians and almost all of the regular teaching jobs a small minority of them had by year-end.

More homegrown teachers in 2011

More graduates of Ontario teacher education programs gained OCTs in 2011 than in any previous year. At 9,247 new Ontario-educated teachers, the homegrown total exceeded the previous peak year 2008.

US border college programs, specially designed for Ontarians, continue to fall out of favour. New teachers from these New York state colleges plummeted to 675 in 2011, down more than 60 per cent from the high of 1,744 back in 2006.

New teachers coming from other Canadian provinces continue to decline. And fewer Ontarians last year were certified with Australian teacher education degrees — a major reason for a fall in new teachers with degrees from other countries.

Overall, the annual number of new Ontario-certified teachers has fallen by more than 1,500 from the previous high point in 2008 — but remains almost 3,000 above 1999 levels.

Year first certified

Ontario grads

US border college grads

Other provinces

Other countries

Total new teachers

























What do we want? Practice!

The vast majority of newly minted teachers want in-class time.

Graduates of Ontario faculties of education highly value practice teaching as preparation for the classroom and recommend more supervised classroom teaching for future teacher candidates.

Almost nine in 10 of the graduates of 2010 said their practice teaching was an excellent or good preparation for a teaching career, with more than half rating it excellent. The majority also positively evaluated their teacher education course work, although the ratings fall well below those for the practicum. And these ratings do not change by the second year of the teaching career, according to reports by the 2009 graduates.

Not only do new teachers value the practice teaching they experience, they also clearly identify more practice teaching time and more hands-on experience as the highest priorities for further strengthening teacher education in Ontario.

Four of the six highest priorities identified point to a need for teacher candidates to spend more time in the classroom—more practicum time, more teaching time during practicums, more observation by experienced teachers during practice teaching, and more coaching and feedback on teaching. The other two highest priorities are directed to practical hands-on teaching experience —more attention to classroom management and to assessment, testing and evaluation.

About our survey

The Transition to Teaching study of new teachers in the 2010—11 school year examines the job-entry success and professional experience of teacher education graduates of 2000 through 2010 and new-to-Ontario teachers educated elsewhere and certified in 2009 and 2010. Web-based surveys were used with large samples from each of these groups of new teachers.

Responses were received from 6,566 teachers. Response rates varied from 23 to 48 per cent of the samples, with an average 37 per cent return overall. Accuracy rates for the surveys range from 2.2 to 4.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The Transition to Teaching study is made possible by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education. This report does not necessarily reflect the policies, views and requirements of the Ministry.

The full report of this year’s study is available on the College website.