Increased pay rates and recruitment reform is necessary to solve the teacher shortage, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland has said.
Some 81% of secondary school principals said they were forced to hire unqualified teachers due to shortages, according to figures released by the ASTI.
There are unfilled vacancies in half of Irish secondary school while three-quarters of schools have no applicants for advertised positions.
The ASTI is seeking inflation-matching pay rises and less barriers to entry for newly qualified teachers to prevent more Irish teachers emigrating.
ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie told The Pat Kenny Show that teaching Ireland is “no longer being viewed as an attractive profession”.
Mr Christie said most teachers are emigrating to America or the Middle East to work.
“Teachers are voting with their feet.”
He said there are approximately 120,000 registered teachers in the Irish Teaching Council, but only 70,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools.
“Where the other 50,000 are is my question,” he said.
Mr Christie said the lack of teachers in Ireland mean more subjects are facing shortages, including Irish and maths.
“If we can’t secure pay rises that at least preserve current income relative to the cost-of-living crisis, the recruitment and retention crisis is going to get even worse,” he said.
The ASTI is seeking inflation-matching pay rises and less barriers to entry for newly-qualified teachers to prevent more Irish teachers emigrating.
“The enormous growth of inflation that happened in the last 12 or 18 months,” Mr Christie said, “It happened in the context where pay rises weren’t happening.”
Mr Christie said summer holidays do not mean that teachers are not entitled to pay increases.
“The cost-of-living crisis is biting everybody and irrespective of your holidays, you still have to pay the same at the till,” he said.
“There's an element of trading off there, but that doesn't work for a lot of people quite frankly.”
Mr Christie also told the show that recruitment is difficult because of the requirements needed to get a permanent job in a school.
“Jobs that aren’t not being held down by anyone are being offered on a part-time basis,” he said, “And that's how we're trying to entice people back.”
Mr Christie said teachers coming back to Ireland should not have to work on a fixed contract or part-time basis.
He said the Department of Education has created “quite minimalist” policies such as expanding time-sharing positions.
The ASTI is calling for “substantial” changes to recruit more teachers.
“The Minister [Norma Foley] needs to take this problem by the scruff of the neck,” he said.
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