Two-thirds of new teachers can’t find full-time work

Province reacts with “hard cap” on new enrollments


Few other graduates in Canada have as much reason for pessimism as those who finished teacher’s college this spring. A study from the Ontario College of Teachers shows that two-thirds (67 per cent) of education graduates from Ontario’s class of 2009 found themselves unemployed or underemployed in the following year. And, the unemployment rate among new teachers has exploded to a staggering 24 per cent — up from just three per cent in 2006.

The job market is bad in western Canada too. In British Columbia, 2,700 new students were certified by the College of Teachers last year. The BC Public School Employers’ Association says that only 1,000 are needed, according to the Victoria Times Colonist. Even in fast-growing Alberta, many school boards are laying off.

The situation has caused Ontario to take an unusual step. In May, it placed a “hard cap” on funding for newly enrolled education students. Caps are usually reserved for medical professions only, but John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities for Ontario, explained that the supply and demand is so out of whack that teacher’s college enrollments needed to be culled.

“We recognize that not every graduate of education programs wants to be a teacher in Ontario,” says the Minister. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that when people leave [teacher’s college] they have a realistic chance of getting a job.”

The problem for grads is that Canada has fewer school-aged children, fewer retiring teachers and yet teacher’s colleges have chosen to pump out more grads over the past decade. The new cap in Ontario will force first-year classes to shrink by 885 students overall by 2012-13. That means a maximum of 9,058 new students will start next fall.

But is that enough? The new cap is still far above the 8,077 teachers from Ontario schools who registered with the provincial college in 1999 — a period when an average of 7,200 Ontario teacher’s retired each year, creating many spots for new grads. In the period between 2005 to 2009, average annual retirements fell to just 4,600, meaning thousands fewer jobs per year.

And now? “Teacher retirements are forecast to remain under 5,000 annually over the next seven years,” concluded the College of Teachers’ report. That means the bleak job market for new teachers is unlikely to improve any time soon.


Two-thirds of new teachers can’t find full-time work

  1. I thought this article was right on point. Colleges and Universities need to be more accountable on the number of graduates they are pumping out in to the communities. The term “limited enrolment” seems to be a thing of the past as long as the money is flowing. Education is of course an important step in the career process but more focus on future job prospects needs to be encouraged to aspiring new students. With the cost of education only increasing, new graduates need to be able to count on finding jobs when the student loans coming calling.

    • It is well known that there are not an abundance of teaching jobs out there. So….. after completing a BA, the students are the ones choosing to apply to teacher’s colleges. They are adults by that time, and making decisions as adults. Why is it the college and university that is to blame because the student chooses to enter a field that is not likely to provide employment??? It is a means of chasing a pipe dream to enter a field with maybe a 30% chance of employment. Also, it is a way to extend student life and not have to make the decision to start taking on adult responsibility.

  2. Did we expect anything different from the “Self Serving Model” of professionalism when the very administration governing the profession is in charge of accountability. If a criminal was told he would be his own judge and jury, do you think we would need jails. I think not! In both Ontario and B.C. they have the same system. In BC they let teachers responsible for the death of a child on a school trip to become teachers again. In Ontario they routinely allow convicted sex offenders to teach in the province, why would the teaching profession be in the slight bit concerned about integrity of teachers or the victims of criminal teachers. Can we expect anything from a teaching profession that allows the theft of $835,000 from a school board with out asking for one single receipt. If they don’t care about professionalism or integrity, why would they care for one second if teachers get jobs after spending thousands going to university?

    • So what did any of that have to do with the fact that too many teachers are being graduated? It is not the teachers at the bottom of the food chain who are responsible for hiring and firing. In Ontario all school board employees are required to have a criminal record check, so if “convicted sex offenders” are being hired, that is because the police departments are not doing their jobs. Every person looking for a job has to pay for a record check.

  3. “We recognize that not every graduate of education programs wants to be a teacher in Ontario,” says the Minister. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that when people leave [teacher’s college] they have a realistic chance of getting a job.”

    Really? You just noticed that there is an imbalance between graduates and available positions? A “hard cap” should have been put in place years ago. Even with a soft job market many “prestigious” universities have still added seats in their programs in order to help alleviate some of their financial problems knowing full well that there is no place for the students to go once they graduate. And please, lets not once again fall back on “we promise them an education, we don’t promise them a job.”
    You don’t pursue one without having a reasonable expectation of the other.
    In the meantime, perhaps we could encourage those teachers that have retired to enjoy their golden years rather than allow the double-dipping that keeps new grads from getting even the occasional experience that supply teaching would provide. There are some great young educators out there who if not given the chance to share what they’ve learned, will ultimately have to follow a different path. Once again, the loser will be the student.

  4. All I want to do is get on a supply list :( If nothing else… just let me have that.

  5. I’m surprised that a third of Ontario teaching graduates manage to find full time work their first year out of college. From the experiences of young teachers I’ve come across, that figure seems very high–most are happy if they can get a few days a week of supply work in their first year.

  6. The faculty of education is a bit of a money grab. The cap is not high enough. Lots of the people who opt for their BEd are doing so only because they have few other choices after attaining their BA. Teachers Colleges need to make it harder to get into their programs and make them longer.

  7. One third of the teachers who get jobs are teachers that either leave the province to go to another province or go to places like China. Minister you are clueless!

    • Simple. Governing bodies like OCT should only certify x amount of people per year.

      That certification number is tied to the previous years retirements across the province.

      Any grads produce over this number go into a que / waiting list.

      2 waiting lists.
      4500 for provincially/canadian trained teachers
      500 for out of county.

      That’s how.

  8. Unfortunately, the cap covers only Canadian universities. what about the students who can not get into Canadian BEd programmes and then cross the border, where it is much easier to get in these progeammes, and then come back to seek jobs.

    • In terms of cross boarder education, if the province and/or the Ontario College of Teachers stopped accrediting out of province universitites (those in NY cost $15,000 plus) then there would be many fewer poor unemployed graduates.

  9. As the father of two recent grads who spent $$$ becoming a teacher..the real problem is the UNION who lets ‘retired’ teachers on huge pensions…soak up MORE by teaching 120 extra days..nudge, nudge, unless they get LTO and then they get $300..a day plus pension and guess what NO room for young teachers..get the problem fixed…My daughters are happily teaching in another country gaining experience, making money and waiting til they can come home to teach…

  10. If new teachers can’t find a job locally, they should consider going to an isolated community in the North. Northern school boards constantly need teachers. If you have good class room management skills, love the outdoors, enjoy a challenge and want to get great work experience, it is worth it. After a few years you will have a lot of tools and some great stories for future job interviews.

  11. I graduated the Faculty of Ed. last year and still not able to land a position on the supply list. I blame the fact that American schools give out B.Ed degrees and certify Canadian students to become teachers. I am told by administrators to volunteer in a school in order to land a position. Does volunteering pay the bills? Who is going to pay for my family while I work for free trying to get my foot in the door.

    • Of course!!! It is all the fault of the Americans! Maybe George Bush is behind the problem.

  12. It’s situations like this that allow schools to pretty much require new teachers to work for free in the hopes of getting an inside track on a job. It’s a form of exploitation, and perhaps corruption – as it weakens the merit principle in favour of a kind of bribe.

  13. Aggravating the problem, here in Sherwood Park, an aquaintence of ours, who is 65 and receiving a pension, was bragging to my wife about being on the substitute teacher list and getting $400 or $500 a day with no responsibilies. I would say to her “Lady, that is how young teachers get into the profession, let the young people have that work, and be damm well happy with your pension”.

  14. The teacher’s pension plan in Alberta continues to grow until the teacher drops dead or finally retires. There is not a cap on retirement earnings so we have 65 year olds teaching kindergarden because the amount of their pension is based on the past five years income. Young teachers that can actually use a smartboard are swept away through budget cuts while the old folks grin like idiots when looking at their rising income level.

  15. I have seen this type of reactionary thinking before, with both teachers and nurses. In a few years, when the pendulum swings the other way the Province will have to offer incentives to retired teachers and nurses to come back out of retirement,as they did in the past.

    Also, the thinking that a person becomes a non person when they reach 65 or some arbitary age is not objective. You are not dead until you are dead, therefore you have a choice when you retire.

    The CPP was only invented in 1965, so the current generation of people in the their 60s paid for and funded it. If the governments ripped off the fund and squandered it, that is not the payees fault. True also for the private pension funds.

    The problem is, that class sizes need to be reduced and funded for better quality and an improved system of quality mentoring for new teachers introduced. (A fair and objective cull on demonstrated older bun outs would also help).

    Adult education (not neccesarily older people, but younger age “drop out” recovery programs should be enhanced, in a less juvenile forum, to make them feel normal and run of the mill).

    The problem is not the market, the problem,as in other Provincially administered services (e.g. health care, power supply, etc), is the waste on high administrative salaries and benefits and poor core funding.

    Put the money where the “tire meets the road.!”

  16. we should open Canada’s door to make more and more international students come from other countries, and it will increase teacher’s job in Canada

  17. An of this 1/3 who got work in their field, I expect that for virtually all of them this means they got onto a supply list or that they are teaching in another country. I would find it hard to believe that any new graduate has been offered a full-time permanent contract in any board in southern or central Ontario. I have 12 years teaching experience, a Masters degree, and very strong references, but it has taken me three years to get a permanent contract in a Toronto area board after working in an independent school for a few years. First the supply list, then a couple of years of LTO’s, now a contract – and I know I only have the contract because I can teach instrumental music. No principal on our board would be allowed to directly hire a new teacher for a permanent contract, unless it was for French Immersion. It’s too bad that the Ontario government can’t put a cap on teachers graduating out of colleges in Buffalo too.

  18. By the time students have completed a Bachelor degree in their chosen field, they are adults. The choice to spend more money to attend a college of education is theirs to make. It is a well known fact that teaching jobs are NOT plentiful and the chance of landing a job after graduation is minimal. However, the student makes the choice to continue on to a college of education. They all figure if they are one of the lucky ones to get a job, they have it made – big bucks, summer off, every stat holiday off, great Christmas break and March break. So, they roll the dice, and as expected, most of them lose when it comes to getting a job.
    That being said, on the other hand, those who are at the end of their teaching career need to walk out the door and stay there. Taking full pension benefits, and then coming back to fill in as Occasional teachers should not be allowed. Either retire and take the pension, or stay employed, not both. Or perhaps if every dollar earned in the classroom was deducted from pension income, then they would not be double dipping….. And I would be willing to bet that if that was the case, they wouldn’t be taking up those precious occasional hours that new teaching grads could have in a means of getting a foot in the door.

  19. What’s missing is the dirty little secret of science and math teachers – too many English majors are teaching math and science in our high schools because not enough BEds have a background in science and/or math.

    If you really want to be a teacher then get a degree in a subject where there is a demand.

    • Too true. Anyone who can teach French will get hired in an instant. Tech degrees also seem to be in demand. And….. a lot of people are teaching whatever they can fill in, with no background in that particular subject.

  20. Oversupply of teachers? There’s a simple solution: lower the wages of teachers. Only the students who really want to teach will want to become a teacher, and not for the summer holidays, pensions, job security and so on. This is how it works in the private sector, this is how it should work in the public sector.

    Limiting the supply of teachers is an artificial barrier. Reducing wages also helps reduce the deficit.

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  26. This topic is brought some hard question about teachers actually they are the main pillars of next generation if their morale is down by not having job security how we would expect they can deliver their best knowledge to students. The question comes from it and everyone should think seriously about it. This topic should have on national forums like quora or so that it will get more exposure. Thanks to the author of this post who bring this point and all those are speak for teachers.