A recent article in the Globe and Mail highlighted the bleak job prospects for new graduates from Teachers College.
The unemployment rate among recent teaching grads is staggering:
“It’s the continuation of a frightening trend in the province where involuntary unemployment among first-year teachers has grown to 24 per cent from only 3 per cent in 2006. For those who did some teaching in their first year, the underemployment rate rose to 43 per cent in 2010 from 27 per cent in 2006. So two-thirds of teaching grads could not find a full-time job in 2010.”
The crux of the problem is bad demographics. The median age in Canada is about 40. As you can see from the population pyramid below there is a huge bulge of people between 40-65. The baby boom generation is comprised of 8 million people and most Canadian schools were built to accommodate the swelling number of youngsters in the 60′s and 70′s. However, nowadays the picture is wildly different. Parents are having far fewer children and subsequently that means far fewer students enrolled at Canadian public schools. Of course, this means less demand for teachers.
The second problem is that older teachers are not retiring at 60 as was expected. People are in much better health and the retirement dream has lost it’s luster especially as the financial markets have been volatile over the last decade.
The obvious fix to the problem would be to lower the teacher/student ratio. One would assume that students would be better served by classes of 15 students rather than 30 students. However, the academic research has produced mixed results on whether small is better.
In addition, it would be costly to reduce class sizes. Provinces are under enormous financial strain. For example, Ontario has a greater deficit per capita than California which many economists view as bankrupt.
Secondly, because of the aging population, a greater percentage of government spending will have to be re-directed towards health-care rather than education.
The factors above mean that enrollment at Teachers Colleges should be curtailed to allow the supply of new Canadian teachers to be absorbed by the teaching job marketplace.