The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has warned that reduced pay and low hour contracts are resulting in the teaching profession becoming increasingly less attractive to the country’s best young graduates.
The union believes that due to more secure employment options in industry, it will become considerably more difficult for schools to attract teachers in an increasing number of subject areas unless salaries are equalised.
Ahead of its Annual Congress in Killarney, TUI is calling for salary equalisation over as short a timeframe as possible. The alternative will see a drain of the best young graduates away from the profession at a time when they are most needed.
Speaking recently, TUI President Gerry Quinn said:
‘We are hearing with increasing frequency that schools are struggling to attract new teachers in certain subject areas. Graduates who had intended to undertake a masters in teaching and, increasingly, qualified teachers across a range of subjects are routinely finding better paid and more secure employment in industry.
Currrently, the problem is particularly pronounced in subjects such as home economics, modern languages, the science subjects and Irish. However, with the recruitment of considerably more teachers required (around 3,500 new full-time positions) over the next ten years at second level due to rising student numbers, the situation will spread across all subject areas unless the profession is made more attractive.
This is a damaging legacy of discriminatory, reduced pay rates for new teachers and a rampant casualisation of the profession. While the salary scales of all new entrants to the public service were targeted, reductions in teachers’ pay were far greater than what applied to most public servants.
Those who entered the profession from February 2012 have been placed on a severely reduced starting salary which sees them generally earn 21.7% less than those appointed prior to 2011 (based on a contract of full hours).
As if this wasn’t bad enough, for several years now second level teachers have been applying for fractions of jobs with no guarantee of being retained from year to year. Such teachers experience income poverty, often struggling and sometimes failing to pay the rent. 30% or more of our second-level teachers are employed on a temporary, part-time basis, and that this proportion grows to 50% for those under 35.
It is little surprise that graduates who now qualify in certain disciplines/subjects are reluctant to undertake the required additional two year postgraduate masters in education (at a cost of around €10,000 in fees alone) when they can earn considerably more in industry, start work two years earlier and enjoy full hours, better job security and promotional prospects from the start of their career.
For a range of compelling educational, economic and social reasons, the quality of teachers entering the profession must be maintained. Key to this is a return to equal pay for equal work. TUI urges that salary equalisation occur in as short a timeframe as possible. The alternative will see a drain of the best young graduates away from the profession.