OCT OEEO

PS_March_2021

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30 Professionally Speaking March 2021 TRANSITION TO TEACHING ILLUSTRATION: iSTOCK Teacher Shortages Mean More Jobs for New Graduates BY FRANK MCINTYRE AND ELIZABETH MALCZAK U nemployment for early-career teachers continues to recede. With an insufficient number of future Ontario teachers on track to start their teaching careers, this shortage will challenge school boards for the next several years. Recent education graduates in Ontario report less unemployment in the 2019–20 school year than in years past. The latest Transition to Teaching survey finds first-year Ontario gradu- ate unemployment at six per cent, with an average rate for teachers in years two through five between two and three per cent. These reports are much lower than the double-digit unemployment rates of recent years. Despite the positive labour market for Ontario's early-career teachers in 2019–20, the journey was not easy for those trying to progress from part- time to full-time teaching jobs. School closures in March 2020 ended all further teaching assignments for many daily occasional roster teachers and cut into weekly teaching days for others. Many first-year teachers say they did not teach as much as they wanted to during the school year. This under- employment rate jumped to 34 per cent in 2020 from just 14 per cent the previous year. Reports of job interview and appointment delays after schools closed added to the COVID-19 fallout that hit some newly licensed Ontario teachers. Meanwhile, collective agreements with the province's teacher federa- tions resolved future uncertainties with respect to average class size funding for Ontario district school boards. Proposals to increase stu- dent/teacher class sizes in secondary schools from 22/1 to as high as 28/1 are no longer on the table. Nonethe- less, averages did rise to 23/1 in 2019–20 from 22/1 the previous year, restricting job opportunities for secondary panel teachers. The combined effects of school closures, which delayed some teacher hiring, and secondary class size increases can be seen in the differ- ences in the unemployment rate across certification divisions among first-year teachers. The lack of new teacher supply to meet annual teacher hiring require- ments in Ontario in recent years has reduced first-year teacher unemploy- ment across the divisions. Our 2020 survey results depart from this trend. Primary-junior teachers maintained the low six per cent rate reported in 2019, down significantly from 16 per cent in 2017. Intermediate-senior first-year teacher unemployment jumped from four per cent in 2019 to eight in 2020, although this 2020 rate remains well below the 15 per cent recorded in 2017. Technological education first-year teachers in 2020 also report a jump from no unemploy- ment in 2019 up to 13 per cent. The low number of tech-ed teachers and survey respondents, however, warrants some caution in interpreting this result. Junior-intermediate teacher unemploy- ment increased from three to four per cent, according to this year's survey. Language of instruction and employer variances persist in this year's reports on early-career teacher progress from part-time to permanent teaching The 2019–20 school year presented hurdles for some new teachers, but higher demand this year and beyond points to further employment gains for recent and future education graduates in the years ahead.

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