Yes, I may need to leave Canada for work -

Yes, I may need to leave Canada for work

Teacher’s college says we’re out of luck until 2015


London Calling (LaertesCTB/Flickr)

I got a call from Montreal the other day. On the other line was a man who represented a teaching agency in London, England. He had seen my email and resumé and said that I could come over to teach after completing the required paperwork.

When I decided three years ago to follow my calling, moving across continents for a job was unfathomable. I predicted I would send out resumés after graduation, then a school board within a reasonable distance from my home would ask me to work for them full-time as a teacher, everything would be hunky dory and I would decorate my classroom with dry-erase markers of every colour (you can never have too many).

The above scenario was obviously a delusional fantasy.

I recently learned in an email from one of my instructors here at York University’s teacher’s college that, in keeping with regulations agreed to with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, school boards will essentially no longer be allowed to do external hiring until all current occasional teachers have had the opportunity to apply for available jobs. In other words, until the huge backlog of certified teachers—many of whom are fighting tooth and nail just to land a supply teaching gig—have had their shot at a full-time job, fresh teacher college younglings need not apply.

According to that email, the best estimate of when the next hiring boom will happen is not until 2015. Worse, Professionally Speaking, a magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers, reports that one in three teachers found absolutely no jobs within the profession in the 2011-12 school year. The unemployment rate for new teachers was recently pegged at a whopping 37 per cent.

It’s not the best feeling in the world when you hear that the field you’re hoping to work in is already bursting at the seams with just-as-equally-qualified people. I had already come to accept the fact last year that, when September 2013 rolled around, I might no longer be in a classroom as a student. Only now is it dawning on me that I may not be in a classroom at all, period.

That is, unless I decide to do something about it and move overseas. I’m considering it.

I’m obviously privileged in certain aspects of my life and disadvantaged in others. I know that I won’t exactly be living like a queen if I decide to uproot and relocate. I may be making a huge commitment without knowing what it would truly do for me or my prospective career.

On the other hand, I am lucky to have a network of people who support what I do, and by the time 2015 comes around, I will be 24 years old—young enough to begin my long-term career closer to home and not have to worry about whether it will interfere with other major milestones.

It has finally hit me for the first time, as naive as it may sound, that I will have to deal with the in-my-face uncertainty that has been creeping up on me for the past year. I would never have thought that literally moving out of my comfort zone would have been an option. Perhaps this is not pertinent to all professions, but it certainly is the case in education. This is the reality for thousands of fellow teacher’s college graduates across the country, and many other graduates too.

My generation must quickly learn that doing things by the books does not guarantee a future path. We must weigh options, take chances and make our own paths—even if those paths are far from home.


Yes, I may need to leave Canada for work

  1. Teachers colleges across the country have been doing their students a huge disservice by not spelling out the realities of the teaching profession upfront. On average, we are graduating more than two teachers for every one full-time job that becomes available.

  2. You are still young. It is expected for one to move to any place where you can find a job. Teaches colleges are not there to provide you with a job. They are there to provide you with the skills to apply for a job. That’s the reality. You must have done your research before applying to teachers college. Even in 2015 when hiring starts. You will still have to compete with fresh grads who are fresh out of university. They will be preferred as candidates unless you can find jobs overseas in your profession.

    • I have done this several times. I worked in Hong Kong and returned to Canada for a Masters degree in the 90’s. Graduated and worked my way into a board in Bob Rae’s social contract hey day. I ultimately quit to work in industry and am now in the US.

      As long as public sector jobs in Eastern Canada pay enormously better than the private sector there will be a massive over investment in producing new teachers.

    • Teacher’s College are public sector services there to deliver public goods. Not private sectors services existing to maximize profits.

      As a public entity monopolist, you have a fiduciary duty to be a good stewardess of the labor market. This duty is towards the tax payer, graduate, parents, children and citizens.

      Education faculties have been exploiting all of the above for the sake of prestige and tuition dollars, driving public sector debts higher by behaving as diploma mills. Not long ago an interview consisted of a 2 minute 5 question phone call, a few weeks after graduation. Today faculties and boards tell grads to volunteer for years, essentially to burn time and further resources because they can’t invent a better excuse, and can’t fess up to their failings.

  3. The Ontario College of Teachers has had the authority under law to review the practices of teacher education programs. They have said nothing, until now, about the over abundance of Teachers being trained at Teacher Faculties. Why would they say something now? Apparently since they have been exposed for allowing a school principal to be in charge of schools after throwing dog feces at a child, allowing repeat sex offenders to teach our students and now hiring a Former Judge to write a $500,000 report that does nothing to protect people, they need to make it look like they are protecting the public…. What a Joke! The Ontario Ombudsman should be allowed to investigate their corrupt practices.

  4. Overseas experience is fun, interesting and useful. Don’t worry too much about that.

  5. Is this just the secondary level or also the elementary level?

    And, keeping with a previous post on male/minority hiring, will this still apply? It’s kind of confusing when they talk about hiring more males and THEN talk about a hiring frees for new teacher candidates.

    Also, I have to point out a different perspective — the author of the post is a female, which greatly affects her outlook on male teachers. Ask a male student this question and you might get a different answer. I never had ANY male teachers in elementary school, and while I adored all of my female teachers, male energy at the primary/junior level would have been a great balance. Many young kids need more positive young male role models that care about them academically and personally! Family dynamics are changing, many kids come from single-family households, etc.

    Also, males make up about 11% or so at the lower grade levels. If this was women at 11%, you bet we would be doing something to change it. All of a sudden males are minorities and it’s not right … you have to step back and try to not be hypocritical. In the professional field, women/minorities are flat-out favored. We want to encourage diversity in the work place and this should not stop in the classroom.

    • Would like to clarify that the “hiring more male teachers” will be done internally, as in they will not be doing any external hires until the entire list of now-avail teachers are given a chance to apply.

  6. I will be graduating from York’s teacher education program in 2013 and I beginning to worry about my future job prospectives. From what I’ve seen there are so much politics in this system. Hard work in the teaching field does not pay off, and getting a job now is like winning the lottery.

  7. If the supply and demand economics were only applied to the teaching profession, it would not take long to get rid of a deficit. Alas, we have faced the past 11 years of government mismanagement that created an increase in civil service, increase in fees, lowering of CS productivity, etc, etc, etc. Is there anyone out there with the Cajones to correct the situation. Perhaps the taxpayers can riot in the streets to get its message.

    • After you, K.

  8. I graduated from UofO teacher’s college in 2001. Initially I had no other ambition than to be a great teacher in Canada. I was offered a job but only at the last minute after I signed a contract to go teach at an international school in Tanzania so I moved on. It was the best thing I ever did! I love teaching in international schools, the students are great, teachers are fabulous and the professional development is beyond rapport. I was a born teacher but because I left our bogged down system for a chance to be intrepid I have forged my own paths and will not even consider going back and there are several reasons for it: Pay is better, housing is paid, taxes are paid, great travel experiences, more collaborative colleagues, exposure to a variety of curriculums, pleasant students who want to learn, relatively few discipline problems, paid flights and the list goes on. Leave and never look back is my advice! I have had the pleasure of doing field trips in the Serengeti, Skiing in Switzerland, London, Venice, Thailand and this is only the beginning. Unless you need to be a part of a system that holds your hand and puts teachers in line ahead of you make the move and continue to grow and learn. You will look back in 11 years time with the utmost gratitude and keep on going; after all getting your teaching credentials is but one hurdle and there are a lot of other sports out there in the vast and exciting world we live in.

    • Allow me to use the Nike slogan, “Just Do It”.

  9. That’s the reality of our job market nowadays. All of us don’t have a rosy path in finding a job whether it be teachers, journalists, social workers etc.., but we have to keep pushing forward. I’m sure you were aware of that when you chose to go into teaching though.

  10. I keep on leaving Canada to try to be a teacher. I come back time and time again only to wait. Only to have a ticking time bomb on my back from student loans. With little options, months and months of applications, professionally? I can only make it on the sub list until this generation retires. I had one interview after 500 application only to be turned down because I can’t speak French. Really? Why is Canada so hard and why is there no training programs to get specialities. It seriously messed up and we are trying not to loose our patients but in the end Canada losing out. Good teachers, the best in fact are not in the classroom. Creativity, imagination, critical thinking, the best educators are long gone. Why? because on distant horizons we can make a difference. Too often the best teachers are cut off from opportunity due the importance of assessment, scores, tests in world that ever changing to the 21 century. Why stay here when we are appreciated so more in other countries? We lost a generation of Excellent educators to feed other countries. We are now the immigrants to Canada that was the open door to the world.