Our 2017 survey of new teachers confirms that Ontario’s enhanced teacher education program candidates are heading toward a more welcoming job market than new teachers experienced over the past decade.
By Frank McIntyre
INFOGRAPHIc : HANNAH BROWNE/STUDIO 141
The latest Transition to Teaching survey shows that the much reduced numbers of teachers licensed in Ontario in 2016 resulted in a significantly lower unemployment rate than first-year teachers in earlier years. Teachers who are now two to five years into their careers also report much better job outcomes than before.
Our annual poll of early-career teachers shows the unemployment rate among Ontario graduates in the first year after licensing dropped from 38 per cent in 2013 to 14 per cent in 2017. Similarly, average unemployment among graduates in their second through fifth years tumbled from 21 per cent in 2014 to just seven per cent in 2017. Despite these substantial improvements over the past few years, 2017 unemployment rates are still above the negligible unemployment reported back in 2006.
How has this shifting job market come about? From 2003 to 2013, newly licensed teachers in Ontario numbered an average of about 6,600 more each year than the annual number of teacher retirements in the province. This led to an increasingly crowded earlycareer teacher job market and growing unemployment each year until 2013. With decreasing numbers of entrants thereafter, and the sharp reduction in newly licensed teachers in 2016, fewer teachers entered the market than teacher retirements in recent years, easing the market overcrowding. The years ahead will bring a near balance of new teachers and retirements.
Decreased job competition is evident in this year’s survey results, which show falling first-year teacher unemployment across all divisions for those graduates who reside in Ontario after licensing. The most noteworthy improvement for these Ontario-based new teachers surveyed in 2017 is among Primary-Junior (PJ) teachers who report a drop from 28 per cent unemployment in 2016 to 16 per cent in 2017. This improvement among PJ graduates brings the unemployment rate down to about one in six first-year teachers for every division.
The 2017 survey results further highlight that newly Ontario-certified teachers who completed their teacher education outside the province also report improved job success in their first year after licensure. Among new Canadians who obtained their teaching licences in 2016, 49 per cent say they were unemployed in 2017 compared to 61 per cent of the first-year group of new Canadians in 2016.
Language and teaching subject qualifications continue to make a big difference in new teacher job outcomes. First-year teachers graduating from the French-language programs at Laurentian and Ottawa universities report single-digit unemployment, and they have done so for the past three years. New French as a Second Language (FSL) teachers report negligible unemployment for the third year in a row. First-year English-language teachers in Ontario report much lower unemployment than in the past, but at 19 per cent in 2017, their unemployment rate remains comparatively high.
English-language Intermediate-Senior (IS) graduates with math or science qualifications report just 11 per cent unemployment, down from 16 per cent last year. English-language IS grads lacking these relatively higher demand qualifications experienced 23 per cent unemployment in 2017, down five per cent from 2016, but still higher than all other English-language qualifications, including PJ grads.
Last year marked a historic transition to a “new normal” in Ontario’s annual new teacher supply. With the reduction in Ontario faculty of education admissions in 2015 and the significant recent decline in out-of-province educated teachers who obtain Ontario licences, the future annual number of newly certified teachers will be less than half the average of the preceding decade. This means a drop from 11,587 in 2006 through 2015, down to a forecasted average of 5,100 in 2017 through 2020.
The very low number of new Ontario teaching licences issued in 2016 — reflecting the one-time transition to the longer teacher education program — drove the strong improvements in early-career employment in 2017. The anticipated gradual increase in Ontario teacher retirements to about 5,000 annually over the next several years, combined with a forecasted increase in provincial elementary and secondary enrolment in the years ahead, will create an annual resupplying of the teacher labour pool that will barely keep pace with teaching job vacancies arising through the end of this decade.
In addition to much lower unemployment among teachers in years two through five, the reported underemployment rate for those who are employed is also falling, from 32 per cent two years ago to 25 per cent in 2017. Many teachers struggling to find jobs in the earlier oversupply years are now beginning to settle into the teaching profession.
Despite the steady job prospects for future OCTs, the Ontario teacher surplus of previous years has left a legacy of continuing negative impacts on career commitment. Early-career teachers now allow their Ontario teaching licences to lapse in much greater numbers than before — and French-language program graduates do so to a much greater extent than English-language grads.
In 2017, seven per cent of College members let their licences lapse after the first year, compared with four per cent in 2005. For teachers licensed five years previous, 17 per cent did not renew their College memberships (26 per cent for French-language program graduates) in 2017, compared with 10 per cent in 2005.
We can expect the rebalanced new teacher supply and annual teacher demand will take a few more years before first-year English-language teachers start reporting single-digit unemployment. Nonetheless, fewer new teachers than job vacancies will gradually lower first-year unemployment rates year after year and lead to earlier full employment for these early-career teachers in the future.
The picture is much different for French-language program graduates. With the annual intake of new teachers with these qualifications sharply reduced from recent levels, first-year rates of unemployment for this market segment will remain very low. With FSL employment rates negligible for the past few years, French immersion and FSL teacher recruitment should remain a challenge for school boards throughout the province.
The improving Ontario job market cut out-of-province job applications by first-year Ontario graduates from one in four in 2013 to just one in eight in 2017. Our survey found that three in five Ontario education graduates who left the province and established teaching careers elsewhere during the teacher surplus years hope to return one day to teaching jobs in Ontario. With provincial early-career unemployment rates dropping quickly, it is likely many of these past graduates will be needed to staff Ontario classrooms in the future, especially those with math, science and French qualifications.
The Transition to Teaching 2017 survey of new teachers examines job entry and professional experiences of teacher education graduates from 2007 through 2016, and new-to-Ontario teachers educated elsewhere and Ontario-certified in 2015 and 2016. Web-based surveys were used with large samples from each of these groups of early-career teachers.
Responses were received from 3,420 teachers. Response rates varied from 15 to 24 per cent of the sample groups, with an average 18 per cent return overall. The accuracy rate is 1.5 per cent overall and 2.4 to four per cent for the individual survey components, 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 at oct-oeeo.ca/t2t.