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Inquiring Minds

There's scientific method in those lab coats

by Wendy Harris  

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Teaching Success

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by Teddy Katz  

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Nurturing the Naturals: Teacher-Parents at the Olympics

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Transition to Teaching 2005

Underemployment in a mixed Ontario job market

by Frank McIntyre  

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Transition to Teaching 2005: Underemployment in a mixed Ontario job market

The fourth year of the College's five-year Transition to Teaching study of teacher-education graduates drew responses from 3,031 recently certified teachers – 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 Ontario graduates and newly certified teachers trained in other provinces and internationally.

by Frank McIntyre

Underemployment is making a comeback in the careers of Ontario's new teachers. Early in this decade newly certified teachers enjoyed a strong job market fuelled by high rates of teacher retirement and, more recently, renewed investment in the province's schools. Within the first few years most were well settled in regular teaching jobs, highly satisfied with their careers and not considering leaving a profession that they loved.

But good luck trying to convince many of the newer Ontario teachers of this research finding. The experience of graduates from earlier in the decade is at odds with that of teachers who have graduated in the past two years without high-demand qualifications in French, mathematics, physics, chemistry or technology. Nor does it fit with the frustrations of experienced teachers educated abroad who have recently immigrated to Canada. Even many of the fortunate ones who graduated in the first few years of the decade or those holding still-scarce qualifications did not walk straight into full-time regular positions immediately after graduating.

Fewer regular teaching jobs

The College's Transition to Teaching study of the first five years of teaching careers in Ontario reveals that some underemployment is a reality today for most new teachers. Our 2005 survey of beginning teachers confirms the tighter job market that first emerged in 2004. Only one in three 2004 graduates found a regular position as their first teaching job and, even near the end of their first year in the profession, fewer than one in two have found one.

It is next to impossible to obtain a contract position within the first year of graduation. I was lucky to get a long-term occasional position.

First-year occasional teacher in northeastern Ontario

Well-established by fourth year – 2001 graduate Rodrigo Arenas is at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute.

By spring 2005, nine out of 10 in this first-year group were teaching, with about one in four in long-term occasional contracts and one in five still doing daily supply teaching. Not all new teachers who share the experience of daily or long-term occasional teaching consider themselves underemployed. Some choose or accept this reality as a satisfactory entry into the profession. Nevertheless, one in three of 2004 teacher education graduates report that they were underemployed in their first year.

I found it very hard to get a full-time position. I get occasional teaching days, on average three to four days each week.

First-year, part-time, occasional teacher in eastern Ontario

Hot qualifications

The downturn in the teacher employment market first reported in Professionally Speaking last year continues to have important exceptions. First-year teachers with qualifications in mathematics, physics, chemistry or technology, graduates of Ontario French-language teacher education programs, and teachers with any qualifications who can teach French as a Second Language far outstrip others in job search success.

Kimberly Fortin, a recent French-language program graduate, found a teaching job at St. Mary's Catholic HS in Woodstock.

Not only do more of these high-demand teachers have jobs, they are much more likely to have regular positions, to be working full time in a single school and to not consider themselves underemployed in the first year.

I was offered four positions for core French in June but waited for the one I wanted closer to home, which came through in August.

First-year, bilingual, Primary-Junior teacher in central Ontario

Graduates of Ontario's French-language programs are even more successful than others with highly competitive qualifications. Virtually all of them are teaching, more than half entered the profession in regular teaching jobs and 70 per cent had regular positions by the last few months of their first year.

Piecework common

Just under half (47 per cent) of 2004 graduates reported in the spring of 2005 that they were not teaching, were teaching on a daily occasional basis only, had part-time teaching jobs in more than one school or were underemployed during their first year in the profession. Some of this group chose not to teach (four per cent) or were satisfied with daily occasional teaching (six per cent) but more than one-third were unemployed or resorted to piecing together some teaching work that was less than the desired full-time job in a single school.

The underemployed

Only eight per cent of new-Canadian teachers certified in 2004 report that they have been unable to find any type of teaching job. However, of those who have obtained jobs, a mere 20 per cent have regular teaching positions – less than half the success rate of Ontarians or teachers from other provinces.

There is not enough respect given to foreign-taught teachers in Ontario. Many times after being interviewed for a position I was turned down for someone taught here.

Occasional Primary-Junior teacher with two boards in the Greater Toronto Area

2001 grad Helena Chong has taken maternity leave but remains committed to teaching.

Thirty-one per cent of teachers who immigrated to Ontario from abroad are employed as daily occasional teachers – a rate much higher than for Ontarians and teachers from other provinces. Thirty-seven per cent of new-Canadian teachers report that they have been underemployed since becoming Ontario certified teachers.

Although Ontarians who study abroad and return to the province to teach have significantly more success in finding regular rather than daily occasional teaching jobs, they report a similarly high level of underemployment (40 per cent) in their first year.

Well established by fourth year

With each year of teaching experience, more recent Ontario teacher-education graduates are settled in regular teaching jobs, fewer resort to daily or long-term occasional contracts and fewer still consider themselves underemployed.

“The downturn in the teacher employment market...continues to have important exceptions.”

This year, 91 per cent of 2001 graduates from Ontario faculties and US border colleges who are teaching report that they are in regular jobs. Less than six per cent report they are underemployed in their fourth year and under one per cent could not find a teaching job this year.

The 2002 graduates appear to be on the same job-success track, with 84 per cent of employed teachers in regular positions and only three per cent reporting lack of success in finding a teaching job this year.

Staying power

Ontario's new teachers have an exceptional rate of retention in the profession. Fewer than one in 12 graduates of Ontario's faculties of education left the teaching profession in the first four years following graduation. More than 91 per cent of 2001 graduates remain members of the College in 2005. Similarly low rates of loss appear to be emerging for the graduates of the subsequent three years.

“Fewer than one in 12 graduates of Ontario's faculties of education left the teaching profession in the first four years.”

It is worth noting that remaining in the profession does not mean that these teachers are in classrooms each year. Even among the consistently employed there are those who may not be in Ontario's publicly funded schools every year after joining the profession.

More than seven per cent of 2001 graduates were on maternity leave this year and another seven per cent took such a leave earlier in their teaching careers.

I am currently on maternity leave. I love my job and enjoy the flexibility this career has to offer.

Fourth year, Primary-Junior teacher in central Ontario

Of the 2004 graduates, three per cent were teaching outside Ontario, five per cent were teaching in Ontario independent schools and four per cent had deferred teaching for some period of time. They remain attached to the Ontario teaching profession and maintain membership in the College.

Benedict Irheugbae, recently certified new-Canadian teacher, is an occasional teacher at Port Credit SS in Mississauga.

Less than one per cent of first-year teachers and just over two per cent of fourth-year teachers say they will not be teaching in five years.

The Ontario teacher job market, viewed from the experience of the 2003 and 2004 teacher-education graduates, is becoming less robust. These teachers may well need more time and patience to secure the regular jobs that were more quickly achieved by Ontario graduates only a few short years ago. However, teachers remain optimistic and most still expect to be in the profession five years from now. This is perhaps not surprising considering that, in each year of this study, four out of five teachers have reported satisfaction with their choice of profession.