Monday, July 21, 2008

Education Enrollment Down 20%, Teachers Look Abroad for Work

Applications into Teachers Colleges in Canada are down by 20% this year. According to Kristin Rushowy of Parentcentral.ca, Ontario has roughly 7500 education spots in universities across the province. But of those that graduated in 2006, there were only 1000 jobs, leaving the vast majority without any hope of securing a teaching job that year. So what happens the next year to all those 6500 graduates? You got it. They get added on to the next 6500. And so on and so on. No wonder so many teachers are volunteering in schools.

Sound familiar? When I graduated from teachers college, there were more than 600 of us from my university. There are 52 universities in Canada that offer Bachelors of Education degrees. 52! So how many teachers are without work in Canada? Far too many.

Yes, enrollment is down. But I think that means more young people are realizing that if they want to become a teacher they have to really want it. It's not enough to think, "Well, why not?". Not that it ever was, but I do think that Canadians, particularly in Ontario, are starting to realize just how dire the job shortage is.

Which brings me to teaching in London. Teachers who are successful in London don't just go because they can't get a job in Canada, but that certainly helps in making their decision a bit easier. They go to experience life in England, travel around Europe and hone their teaching skills. They're adventurous, creative & adaptable. They can "go with the flow" and pick themselves up after a rough day.

In May we did our own little survey. Through Facebook, we asked 100 random people with "education" listed as their degree the following questions:

As a teacher, are you:
A) Looking for work in Canada as a Supply Teacher
B) Looking for teaching work abroad
C) Working in Canada as a supply teacher
D) Working in Canada full-time as a teacher
E) Looking for work in Canada as a teacher

Well, the results surprised us!
A) 8%
B) 46%
C) 8%
D) 26%
E) 12%

46% of the Canadians who completed this survey were looking for teaching work abroad. Wow! I assumed that the majority would fall into E: looking for work in Canada as a teacher. Now, this of course is not a particularly scientific survey (it is just Facebook afterall) but I think it shows that Canadians across the country are looking elsewhere for work.

Why sit around and wait for teachers to retire when you can go abroad and at least start your teaching career? England is the most similar to Canada in its education system, so clearly an obvious choice for many. Makes sense to us.

But how about you? I assume that if you've read this far, you're a Canadian teacher or at least know a Canadian teacher in this situation. What are your thoughts on this issue? If you're a teacher, tell us more about your experience in looking for work. Was it easy-peasy or a tough slog? Did you go abroad? England perhaps? We'd love to hear your stories too.

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