College Consultation Tackles 
Teacher Shortage Issue

Teacher supply and demand remains a persistent problem, but co-operation among education stakeholders continues to be the best approach to finding solutions — as a recent College-sponsored consultation proved.


Early in the fall, I had the opportunity to participate in a full-day consultation hosted by the Ontario College of Teachers on a topic that seems to be a persistent problem in education systems everywhere — teacher supply and demand.
There are two reasons for highlighting this event. Firstly, the consultation provided the College and participants with an open forum to discuss our research data on the effects of the teacher shortage on education and to offer potential solutions. Secondly, this consultation is a significant step in the ongoing development of the College’s responsibility to the profession and to communication with the educational community.
Like everyone else present, I found the data presented by Frank McIntyre about the numbers of teachers in the profession and those who are entering and leaving it to be very disturbing. The facts spoke clearly and loudly — there is a serious teacher shortage and we must address the worrying implications for the profession and the Ontario education system.

M A N Y   S T A K E H O L D E R S

The participants in the consultation came from the teaching affiliates and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, as well as from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. There were representatives from French and English boards of education. Superintendents and directors of education were represented as well as principal and parent organizations, students and trustees.
J. P. Rodrigues of the Ontario Catholic Student Council Federation was particularly articulate and insightful, noting that more recent approaches such as distance education and co-operative programs would be useful in attracting young people to the profession.
By the end of the day, there had been some very frank and open discussion about why there is a teacher shortage, the impact it is having on the public education system, how boards of education are dealing with the problem and, most importantly, some good suggestions as to how the issue can be addressed.

N E W   V O C A B U L A R Y

These suggestions ranged from increasing the numbers of placements at faculties of education, to valuing teachers and the teaching profession through a variety of means. One of the most intriguing comments was the suggestion that perhaps it is time for the educational community to create a whole new vocabulary for the teaching profession because at present, there seems to be such polarization that we find ourselves in a state of paralysis. Leadership on this issue is paramount if we are to promote teaching as the true profession that it is.
The College of Teachers has consistently believed that the issue of teacher supply and demand is one that it should address. The College has been active in raising this issue with the Ministry of Education and with the public, investing resources in gathering the data to support recruitment, and encouraged and initiated co-operative action with other agencies to bring together the pieces of statistical information that various education partners hold. All of these research initiatives enable us to make clearer predictions about what the needs will be tomorrow.
Just as important is that this issue of teacher supply and demand allows the wide variety of stakeholders to meet and work constructively toward a common goal. Amid the vast variety of issues and concerns in education, which we all have to face, this is one where we have an opportunity for collaboration. The second Council of the College agreed that collaboration and communication with the profession would be a priority. I can assure you that the College will continue to profile the supply and demand issue whenever and wherever it is in the interests of the profession and the public.

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