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Way too many teachers

Oversupply doesn’t begin to describe the labour-market mismatch between newly minted teachers and teaching jobs in Ontario.

by Moira MacDonald

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Schools superintendent Michael Sereda is in a position that might be considered enviable. But he doesn’t think so. Since at least 2005, Mr. Sereda has faced the annual task of filling a modest number of teaching jobs at his southwestern Ontario school board, choosing from a landslide of applications from certified teachers eager to fill those posts.

“It would not be an exaggeration to say the applications we receive are in the thousands every year,” says Mr. Sereda, executive superintendent of human resources services for the Thames Valley District School Board in London, Ontario.

For the current school year, he had 161 positions to fill, and many of those were only part-time teaching contracts. Even for teachers trying to get on the board’s supply teaching list, competition is stiff. The supply list is considered a stepping stone, after a minimum of three years, to a permanent position.

“It’s nuts,” says a frustrated Mr. Sereda. “You get these poor kids [applying] who are absolutely fabulous and I can’t offer them anything. Even suggesting hope is tough.”

The situation he describes is but one symptom of the worst teacher oversupply situation in the country. A few other provinces, such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia, also have been coping with oversupply. But by sheer numbers, Ontario tops them all.

Over the last five years, Ontario has seen an average of 4,500 teachers retiring annually – but another 12,000 new people are getting certified to teach. About 9,000 of the new teachers are graduates of education faculties at Ontario universities. Besides retirements, other circumstances also cause jobs to open up, but taking everything into account, each year at least 4,000 more new teachers are entering Ontario’s system looking for work than there are positions for them.

The effect of an ever-growing pool of job seekers is reflected in a 2010 survey by the Ontario College of Teachers (PDF), the provincial body that licenses teachers. Most neophyte teachers aren’t getting full-time jobs, or anything close. In 2006, 30 percent of teachers in their first year after graduation were either unemployed or underemployed. By 2010, that proportion had more than doubled, to 68 percent. Nearly one in four new teachers got no work at all, up from just three percent in 2006.

“It’s like your life is on hold,” says Yvonne Ringler. Since graduating in 2005 from Lakehead University’s one-year bachelor of education program, the 30-year-old has worked a variety of daily supply and long-term supply jobs in a school board east of Toronto and even taught overseas. But she has been unable to secure a full-time teaching position. Two of her friends are in exactly the same boat.

The irony is that barely 14 years ago Ontario was bracing itself for the mother of all teacher shortages. “It is kind of a roller-coaster story,” says Frank McIntyre, manager of human resources for the Ontario College of Teachers, who has been tracking teacher numbers for well over a decade.

In 1998 Ontario was expecting to lose, by 2008, as many as 78,000 teachers through retirement, out of a total teaching corps of 171,500.  And teachers did retire – but with 62,000 leaving over the decade, it was not as many as the experts had predicted.

Meanwhile, things were opening up dramatically on the supply side. Lobbying by universities’ education faculties and the Ontario College of Teachers pushed the provincial government to fund an extra 1,500 one-year teacher education spots, bringing the total number of those spaces – which make up the bulk of teacher education spaces – to 6,500 in 2003. That doesn’t include additional places contributed by the four- or five-year teacher-education programs or by three wholly new teacher-ed programs that were approved and opened at Ontario universities during the decade. When all was said and done, Ontario ended up with more than 9,000 spots for teacher-ed students in its education faculties in a given year.

Demand for those spots shot up, too, from fewer than 8,000 applicants in 1998 to about 15,000 by 2005. Those who didn’t make it into Ontario education faculties could turn to foreign universities and to the U.S. “border colleges,” which quickly developed or expanded their teacher training programs to fill the demand. Those colleges more than tripled their teacher-ed contingent to 1,700 graduates a year by 2006 (dropping since then to about 1,000). The Ontario government also allowed Australia’s Charles Sturt University to offer teacher education programs directly in Ontario, joining New York’s Niagara University, which already had been permitted to do so for many years.

Just as the province’s capacity to train more teachers reached full throttle, the Ontario College of Teachers declared the shortage over in 2005, although it was already winding down for a few years before that, save for modest demands in a few areas such as French, science, math and technology. These subject areas have since tightened up. Overall, a decline in the number of school-aged children in Canada, a petering out of teacher retirements, and a larger pool of retired teachers returning to do supply work all made jobs tighter for new graduates.

Despite that, the Ontario government didn’t actually cut the number of funded teacher-education places until 2011, rolling out a reduction of 885 spots that would take full effect by 2012. That will still leave Ontario with 9,058 teacher education spots.

John Milloy, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities before the election, noted that there are “simply too many people” going through Ontario education faculties compared with the demand for teachers. He described the cut negotiated with universities as “a fairly significant hit to the budget of these institutions,” and one his government wanted to do “in a way that lessened the fiscal impact.”

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Even if the negotiated cut seems modest, faculties of education say they’ve been caught in the middle of demands, first to expand and then to contract. While administrators acknowledge that a surplus exists and they bear some responsibility to help address it, they say the way the cut is being distributed creates challenges, especially when it means curtailing relatively new programs that were planned in the midst of the shortage.

George Sheppard, director of Laurentian University’s English school of education, says, “It’s kind of a drop in the bucket for them,” referring to the impact of the cutback on government. “But for me it’s a big deal.”

Laurentian already had a French-language teacher education program in place, but in 2003 it added a four-year and a five-year program with an aboriginal focus in the English stream, to address regional needs. An $18-million building opened in 2008. The school had just been accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers to start a one-year intermediate and senior teacher-ed program when it was informed in 2010 to expect funding cutbacks for spaces. So now, a program that was expected to enrol 200 students at full capacity is being capped at 65 students for 2012.

“We have a building the university is still paying off,” says Dr. Sheppard. “People were hired on the expectation there would be a student body to teach. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. So it’s awkward.”

Alice Pitt, dean of York University’s faculty of education, says that fewer spaces may hamper an education faculty’s ability to support graduate programs – typically attended by working teachers or those with an interest in education but not planning to teach – or its ability to offer a BEd to people who want to teach internationally or use what they’ve learned outside of the formal Kindergarten to Grade 12 school system.

Dr. Pitt describes education as a faculty that has been treated “more like medicine, less like law” in the way government has periodically stepped in to control enrolment to reflect public education’s labour needs. What gets overlooked, she suggests, is that education faculties have more capacity – and could have even more in the future – to serve education needs beyond supplying teachers to the K-12 school system.

Education deans say that the Ontario government doesn’t control the number of spaces offered by U.S. border colleges, so Ontario-funded universities are unfairly bearing the brunt of the remedy. If Ontario universities are forced to cut back too much, they say, students who want to be teachers will turn to border colleges, and that won’t do anything to fix the supply problem.

“We feel it’s important for everybody to feel the pain equally,” says Jim Greenlaw, dean of education with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “We don’t want to graduate students who can’t get jobs.”

The former minister, Mr. Milloy, said he moved to limit any expansion, turning down a bid by Australia’s Charles Sturt to add a high school teacher-ed program. U.S. border colleges, however, are beyond the government’s reach. Meanwhile, their enrolment numbers have fallen, too.

“It has dropped significantly, all around the border [college] towns that I can see around here, because there are no jobs,” says Ron Dannecker, director of international admissions and marketing at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York, whose teacher-ed program is popular with Canadian students.

In Ontario, too, applications have dropped to 11,500, and confirmed acceptances for this academic year were 7,668, the lowest level since 2005. While the job picture for teachers is better in Ontario’s most northerly regions than the rest of the province, the job situation still “obviously discourages people,” says Sharon Rich, dean of the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay. “Students aren’t taking up the [acceptance] offers the way they have in the past,” she says.

As for Mr. Sereda at the Thames Valley school board, he doesn’t expect the provincial cuts to the education faculties to make much difference to the glut of new teachers that he faces every spring. “Too little, too late,” he says. Even if education faculties stopped training teachers entirely, he says he’d have enough applicants to fill his job needs for the next five years.

But those at education faculties say it’s tricky to correctly predict what future needs will be. They suggest that Ontario may need to take a different perspective on the role of education faculties, and even to start discussions about a longer time to earn a BEd, upping it from one to two years, like Alberta has. During the election campaign, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised to increase the BEd from one to two years for people who hold a bachelor’s degree, if his party was elected.

As for right-sizing the job expectations of teacher education students, both deans and would-be teachers say that education students are more aware than ever of the real job picture. But there will always be those who will work hard to become teachers no matter what.

“The ones who still apply have a passion,” says Dr. Pitt. “They aren’t going to give it up easily.” Ms. Ringler, the underemployed 2005 graduate, agrees: “I am a teacher. I have to be a teacher, regardless.”

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Comments on this Article

Just a comment about the statement that the government has no control over US border schools. That may be technically true at the moment, but it is also a bullshit cop-out. OCT could simply refuse to grant certification to people from these programs. If the US certification boards choose to do the same to Ontario graduates, let them. Who cares? Who the hell wants to live, much less teach in the US?

Posted by John Wakeman, Sep 5, 2014 12:29 AM

The job market is still deplorable and the inadequate adjustments made to teacher education enrollment are simply unethical, especially within the context of the statistics.
The responsibility lies in the hands of government, of the OCT, of the universities and of the job seekers who do need to make appropriate choices. The article above seems to lament the difficulty of university training programs to make adequate changes but fails to review how difficult it is for a candidate after they graduate.
When an applicant gains entrance to a university program they are likely to grasp at a professional straw and go to school for a year.

Perhaps this is not a fully informed choice, but it is one that hundreds are making. How can the university program administrators and professors look their candidates in the eye, tell them at the beginning of the year that they are lucky to get in to the school-"Welcome", they say with a professional smile. Then the administrators and teachers pick up their flutes like pied pipers and march the students right over the professional cliff.

Posted by Uni/Gov, Jul 15, 2014 8:56 AM

The blame in Ontario falls on the Ontario College of Teachers. In addition to the Ontario colleges and other programs across Canada it has taken it upon itself to accredit programs in other parts of the world. How you can train for Canadian school realities in Scotland or Australia is beyond anyone who teaches in Ontario classrooms. Oh yeah, don't expect most OISE profs or profs at many other Fac of Eds to figure that one out as so few have any elementary or secondary teaching experience under their belt.

Posted by A Teacher, May 31, 2014 8:55 PM

This was a very interesting read. While the article is a few years old, it's extremely relevant still- It's a shame that so many teachers are leaving Ontario and all the cutbacks to education, which is so important.

Have other teaches here considered tutoring centres like Oxford Learning (www.oxfordlearning.com) in the interim?

Posted by Mya Spencer, May 16, 2014 12:11 PM

First off, for those of you who got masters and PhD degrees, that was your first mistake, especially in this tough economy. If you are not going to get a good return on your education investment, don't bother. Cost/benefit must always be the first consideration. Try instead to get the most you can, with the least you can - this makes sense. There are tons of great teachers out there with undergraduate and teaching degrees who are worlds ahead of others with higher, fancier degrees. This is not the time for ego stroking folks - - it's about practicality and sensibility. Sadly, too many people with graduate degrees learned the branches, but none of the roots. Common sense and basics always win out in the end.

Posted by John, Apr 10, 2014 8:14 PM

Hi Everyone, I'm currently not teaching in Ontario, and I did not get my educational training there.I have a permanent teaching job in another province. My partner got a job in Ontario (not as a teacher) and I was wondering about moving there myself to teach. I have been a teacher (Grade One mostly) for 10 years. I have a 5 year bachelor of education degree (Primary/Elementary)and a master degree in education (literacy) from a university in Nova Scotia. I also have a total of 4 additional master level course in Mathematics, Guidance, Technology and assessment. (One course from each area). From reading your comments here, it appears that getting a teaching position, replacement or permanent (even getting on the supply list) is nearly impossible. Is this mostly the case for teachers who are newly out of the system and/or teachers that do not have any experience teaching? or am I completely wasting my time with even applying to the OTC for certification (which is 140 dollars?) Also, this article was written in 2011. I was recently told you have to supply for 1 year (10 months and work at least 15 days) before you can apply for occasional long term positions (which are like replacing a teacher on maturity leave or educational leave or sick leave) but I am wondering if the regulations still state that you have to be supplying or in a occasional long term positions for 3 years before you are even able to apply for a Permanent Teaching position? (These regulation seem really really stiff, by the way) Where I live there are no such regulations. You can supply one day and if a position becomes available you can apply (mat leave or even permanent you can apply, doubtful you'll get the permanent one, but you can still apply and I know teachers supplying for just a month and getting a occasional long term position if they are in an areas where there are less teachers). Anyway, hopefully someone can help me! Thanks!

Posted by Rob, Feb 19, 2014 5:57 PM

One needs to learn to compromise. I can't believe there are commenters here that have been unemployed for over 1 year because they couldn't find a teaching job. Grow up! There are other jobs apart from teaching one can go for. It may be a job below your expectation but it sure is better than being jobless. For heaven's sakes wake up and be smart! And you say you want to become a teacher - seriously I would your judgment.

Posted by JR, Jan 15, 2014 8:14 AM

For the comment posted by..Ontario Catholic Teacher.. on Nov. 29, 2012…can you give us some names of these private employers that pay six figures and give 3 months off per year. I have close friends whose children have tried these options but are still waiting for a teaching position.

We live in a subdivision with a few husband/ wife teachers who teach in the high school system and I would be willing to bet they work closer to 22 hours per week. We have a retired couple who are both 53 years old and retired from teaching this year and told us they are making $65,000.00 each per year from their teaching pensions. I assume that is accurate as they seem to be an honest couple. They mentioned they will refuse to supply teach as they know how many young teachers are available and need the money.

Posted by Are You Sure, Jan 10, 2014 12:09 PM

time to make this a profession not a trade. For the money thrown about we should expect much more.

Posted by Lokis, Jan 8, 2014 12:00 PM

Retired teachers should not be allowed to collect pension and work on supply rosters. Talk about being greedy. Most older teachers lack the technological skills to be able to meet the changing needs of our current student population. We need younger teachers who will teach with enthusiasm. Trust me if we start mandating retirement at 60, we will have less strikes and better education for our children!

Posted by tim, Oct 22, 2013 2:02 PM

The solution is simple.

Force all teachers 65+ years of age into retirement. Make it mandatory.

Then completely ban those retirees from taking any other spots (such as supply teaching, consulting, etc etc)

And not just for actual school positions, but within the boards of education as well.

Out with the old and in with the new.

Posted by Mark, Sep 30, 2013 2:28 PM

As long as teachers can make insane money regardless of ability, there will be scores of people lined up to "teach". If teachers could be fired for poor performance, there would suddenly be a shortage of teachers. If honest, a large percentage of people trying to become teachers are doing it for the money.

Like someone else commented, if teaching is a true passion, one could likely get a job in the U.S in a heartbeat. Everyone knows though that American teachers make peanuts.

Oh and to the person who thinks that the Catholic schools are sitting empty, think again. I know a lot of people switching their kids as the Catholic school are so much better. I have kids in both, I see the results.

Posted by Theresa, Aug 18, 2013 5:11 PM

I teach at a college and have realized that very little of what I learned in school is applicable in my courses. I found the job through a combination of good friends and luck. I was a teacher in Japan for many years and did gain some experience, but now I teach courses that do not have any real connection with my MA. And then I found this online:
http://www.rjkoehler.com/2011/12/08/seoul-to-sack-all-native-english-speaking-teachers-by-2014/
Another option shutting down...

Posted by KD, Jul 29, 2013 12:32 AM

I was volunteering in an elementry school for the past three years. In 2012, I volunteered in two schools from the TDSB board, one was middle school and other was a junior school. I put two reference letters from both schools principals, even than they didn't call me for the interview. I am internationally educated teacher.I have so much exprience even though, they did not call me. I am very upset!

Posted by sarabjeet ghotra, May 3, 2013 9:40 PM

Some high school teachers may think that getting a Master's degree and then working at the community college level has a future: it hasn't in Canada. Been there; done that.

I found work abroad but in Canada have only ever had part-time or sessional, non-unionized work without benefit jobs. There will be no pension and only savings to fall back on. If you inherit money, then ok; otherwise, think about it.

As for working overseas, you sacrifice a lot although you gain experiences of all kinds. It can be very lonely and often alienating in foreign cultures, so this option is not a solution for most.

Teaching is satisfying in itself, but hardly a decent living in Canada these days.

Posted by sorosia, Mar 23, 2013 11:20 PM

How about trying to get a trade? I became an electrician out of High school and was a contractor for 10 years before going back to university for 6 years. The combination of two degrees and my trades qualifications mean that I will never be out of work. I have taught in Middle schools, High School, and now Electrical at the post-secondary level. I have 3rd year electrical apprentices making $35/hr+++. Teaching is a rewarding endeavour, and so are the trades - now I blend them.
In BC, apprentices get paid EI while in school and they also get $1000 each year as a further incentive to complete their training.
Skilled tradesmen with a university background - what a great combination.
Ladies too, need to consider trades - there are not enough women in trades. Some of my best students are women.
So I say it again - GET A TRADE and add it to whatever you already have.
I will now step off my soapbox -and I look forward to seeing you here in BC

Posted by Roger, Feb 13, 2013 2:22 PM

I’m reading this article more than a year after it was published, and sadly things have not gotten any better, at least from my perspective. Like some of the other commenters I have not been able to find any teaching work, outside of tutoring and ESL schools in Toronto, since graduating teachers college almost 2 years ago.

Unfortunately, my other idea of teaching overseas has hit a road block as well, as most private schools (domestic and international) won’t hire new grads, and require at least 2 years of solo teaching experience. I understand this from the school’s perspective, so I guess that new teachers will have to find a position somewhere they might not want to really be, stay for a couple of years, then move on, if possible.

My wife and I are not too keen on living in certain places even if jobs are abundant, so we might go back to Japan. I have already taught English in Japan for several years prior to teachers college, and I am willing to go back to my old job for now until I can find a school willing to hire me.

I recommend new grads and others who cannot find work in Ontario to try finding a position teaching abroad. I guarantee it will be an amazing experience no matter what, and your life will be forever changed, your mind and eyes opened further, and your horizons expanded. All kinds of opportunities could arise, and who knows what path you may end up taking. If you decided to come back, just make sure you have a backup plan in case the job market isn’t any better.

On a side note, keep abreast of future trends in different fields. I just watched a video today of robot waiters in China. Futurists predict that a few other industries outside of manufacturing will be fully-automated in the next 15-20 years.

Posted by JC, Feb 4, 2013 8:45 PM

In one article in the Toronto Star I read that there were over 85,000 unemployed and underemployed teachers in Ontario as of 2010.
Consider: 40,000 teachers with 25 students each would require 1 million students, assuming that the subjects would average out to such a ratio. A smaller class size of 20 would require 50,000 teachers. Assuming 2 students to 2 parents, this would require another 1 million increase in the population. Since there would be those without children, or without those in the school age range it is likely that another 1 to 2 million would be in this hypothetical population increase of 3 to 4 million. Can anyone realistically believe that such an increase will take place in Ontario in the next decade? Even Quebec separation and relocation of former Quebecois to Ontario would not make up half of this number. And this does not even take up the surplus at present! Yet as of this date over 9000 students are predicted to be taken into the program in the next year (2013). This is a formula for unemployment, debt and lost potential. The field is flooded. You will not get a career in Ontario.

Posted by Mike C, Feb 1, 2013 11:31 PM

Seriously? I knew what the job market was when I started Teachers College. I went through the program because I enjoyed teaching and wanted to learn more. I wasn't particularly happy with a lot of the instruction at my school, which seemed to favour theory over practice ( I mean it's great to know the statistics and neurological basis behind struggling to recognize phonemes, but what I wanted to know is how to deal with that)
My career services "advisor" was a joke, as she wasn't even aware of what the local board was actually looking for on resumes and cover letters, so obviously I missed the cut on the first round.
I solved my problem by going around to 25-30 schools in my board and giving them a resume/cover letter package that I had worked on with someone who actually knew what Principals are looking for. I asked to be put on their emergency list and so far I've worked, if not steadily, enough times to be in a far better position than someone who shrugged, said" there are no jobs" and went to work at Startek.

Posted by Mike, Feb 1, 2013 11:27 AM

I graduated from OISE in 2009 with the hope of finding a teaching job in Ontario but once you're in the program no one tells you that your getting a degree for nothing if not everyone will be dropping out in masses. I was too foolish not to look at the signs and see that I was investing in some degree with no future. One classmate of mine was going to teach German and English and was told by one professor that there were not German positions in any of the school boards at all. She was wise enough and the next day withdrew immediately from the program. Looking back, I should have done the same but I realized that too late. Now I have a huge student loan on my shoulders which I could not include in my bankruptcy due to my being unemployed for already 3 years. And guess what? Do you know what my degree gave me? Yes, you guessed correctly a job at a retail store then after I had some customer service experience was able to move to a "better" position at a call centre at a major bank. Thanks OISE for providing a degree that's worth no more than a piece of paper.

Posted by Unemployed since 2009, Jan 23, 2013 4:51 PM

Why doesn't OCT regulate the number of certifications given out similar to other regulatory bodies (ie. CAs, Ontario College of Physicians, College of Pharmacists, etc.)? It serves no purpose to allow anyone that meets qualifications to be granted certification.

Posted by SJ, Jan 16, 2013 4:25 PM

Teachers stop your whining. you get three months of the year off 5 weeks is the most you will ever get in the private sector. if you are working 80 hours a week what can you be possibly doing. there is no way any teacher outside of Ontario gets paid more. we pay 95,000 dollars a year for kindergarten teachers. I think they are worth it but please stop whining about how hard done by you are.

Posted by anthony, Jan 14, 2013 9:08 PM

Retirees create full-time positions for new teachers. However, many employees would not be able to retire without the additional income that some supply teaching allows. Supply teaching days for retirees are limited and any extra teaching days mean that the pension income is suspended.

Posted by Cheryl, Jan 12, 2013 7:49 PM

I love the commenter who blames her inability to get into a board men, minorities, and the disabled. If you got into teaching and can't get a job blame it on yourself. Here's a good idea: take a look at what school boards are actually hiring, if they are hiring and get that qualification. If it's French, suck it up and take 5 undergrad courses in French. It's better this than complain the rest of your life how you can't work. Set yourself apart!!!! I also think the province should shut most of these teacher's colleges or vastly reduce spaces by 80%. These rural universities were meant for locals not for rejects from GTA schools to have as backups.

Posted by GTA High School Teacher, Jan 11, 2013 11:04 PM

Apparently some of the teachers on here didn't include basic Economics in their course selections. When the price of a good rises as it has with education suppliers are will to supply more (in this case the good is teachers and their exorbitant tax payer funded salaries and benefits). The oversupply of teachers will eventually cause a decrease in wages and benefits and which will cause a decrease in those willing to go to Teacher's College. We are in the early days of this process. In about 10 years from now teaching may be as attractive as it was in the 90's but it will not be as well paid as it is now.

Posted by dave, Jan 9, 2013 8:05 PM

Part of the problem with retired teachers coming back is this: there are no qualified new teachers to teach courses like calculus and French. At our school, retired teachers teach these when someone's sick simply because the supply list is full of English/SS/PE teachers.
If I were starting out my career, I'd be sure to specialize in something that would set me apart from others.

Posted by Kristine, Jan 5, 2013 2:43 PM



In order to get your foot in to a school board you need to have a disability, be a visible minority, or be a man to fill the quota set by HR. Its not fair but there it is. If people really want to teach and are smart they will go up north and be trained in aboriginal education then wait four years for a transfer. If not just don't go into teaching but nursing, you will fare far better in the medical field with more money and bonuses..

Posted by Scarlett, Jan 5, 2013 9:45 AM

I graduated with a teaching degree from Brock (2011), an M.A. in Economics, and an Economics, Mathematics and Statistics degree from McMaster. And of course, I work at a telesales call center.

Admittedly, the labor market for teachers has been mismanaged beyond comprehension. But newly minted teachers aren't the only indebted group of grads toiling for a living wage gig. OVER 57% of university grads are un-underemployed. Throw a rock at a call center and you'll hit 10 intelligent Liberal Art majors off the head.

Good jobs are disappearing and being replaced by very good, and bad jobs. Pound for pound, a lot more bad jobs are being created. The government has tapped out its tax base a long time ago to adsorb anymore grads and provide for well paid employment. Today's job market only rewards employable skills, not collective bargaining rights, not nepotism, simply employable skills. That's why I'm reequipping my tool kit and learning in demand programming languages so I can finally make a living wage and have some job security. I'll own my own business, and be my own master with unrelenting dedication and scare skills.

You'll be waiting an average of 8 years now to become a permanent teacher. Congrats OCT, MTCU and unions.

Posted by Dan, Dec 19, 2012 5:05 PM

Interesting comments, obviously from those directly affected. I graduated during a "demand" period and was hired by four board straight out of teachers' college. I knew there was a shortage looming and although teaching is my passion and vocation, I would've chosen another line of professional training if there was an oversupply in the teaching profession (that much critical thinking I did learn in my undergraduate studies). I think if you choose to go to teachers college in Ontario in 2012, focus on finding a full time job outside of publicly funded schools or outside Ontario. The joke "the hardest part is getting in" (to teachers college) is true. Rarely, if ever, does anyone fail. They should fail incompetent candidates. Likewise, while on your first year probation, HR and administrators should do their jobs and document incompetence (time and time again I have witnessed that administrators don't follow through with due process and instead move an incompetent teacher to another school: don't blame unions for that, unions are chartered to execute the rules as agreed upon by employer and employee and when management does not follow due process - by documenting and taking the steps to remove an incompetent teacher - then there is no recourse but to keep the teacher on as an employee. Unions aren't thrilled to have incompetent teachers retained b/c of HR's failure to follow due process as it taints the 90+% of excellent, dedicated teachers). One thing I learned very quickly early in my career is that we don't actually get to teach anymore: education is so political and beauracratic that the pure joy of teaching and learning is something I yearn for. I also agree (I'm 15 years in) that once you retire, stay retired. Young, energetic teachers many times over ride "experienced" teachers in creativity and energy. The only thing with the new generation of workers (not just teachers) is their comparatively poor work ethic. That is our collective fault in society - it's as simple as parents allowing their kids to stay home "fake" sick or allow "skipping" or pulling them out of school to go "shopping" with mom b/c she's got the day off. What then do you expect those kids to do when they grow up and get a job? I'll conclude my rant with: teaching is a stressful career where you often work 80 hours a week. If you're doing it for perceived high wages and holidays - with two degrees (min requirement) you can probably get another profession and make six figures and get holidays close to the same amount.

Posted by Ontario Catholic Teacher, Nov 29, 2012 8:55 PM

I graduated in 2007 and still am not on any supply list. It is sooooo frustrating. I will likely have to move by next year if nothing comes up. I've been working part time and barely keeping up with my bills. I am going to be 30 next year and feel like I am unable to start my life because I am under/un-employed. I was told in a seminar a few weeks ago with service canada that teaching is one of the worst professions to get into because there arent any jobs when you graduate. Encouraging right? I cant say I disagree.

Posted by unemployed since 2007, Nov 15, 2012 7:01 PM

I am 2007 graduate and have been teaching full time for five years now - one year overseas in the UK and now 4 years in Northwestern Ontario. I am looking to move back "down south" next year and fear like many of not finding work because of the teacher surplus. I hope this does not happen as I have five years experience but it very well may.

I think the solution would be:

-Cut down on spots in Education programs

-Not allow retired teachers to double dip

I don't think this will completely solve the problem but it may open up some spots.

I also disagree with the comment that people who have passion will stick with teaching no matter what, even if it involves several years of supply.

I doubt that, once I return home and if I can't find work within the year, I think I will change professions. I have passion for my job and that is why I came up north but after all these years enough is enough, I can't continue to put my life on hold until something better comes up.

Posted by Tammy, Nov 8, 2012 4:17 PM

I agree with both points argued here: a) Teachers have it way harder than in the past, and that anyone without a passion for it would leave if they could. We have an excorbitant increase of student disabilities and accompanying expectations to make sure they are learning in a normal-level classroom (this I agree with wholeheartedly, as it is their right); parents do not regard us with the respect they used to, making it more difficult to collaboratively address their children's needs and adding even more stress to the genuinely caring teacher's life; and our classrooms are not set up to meet the needs of all these special needs students cropping up more and more (eg. the one-on-one instruction needs to be upped significantly for each, and teachers don't have time for that with 30 other children). b) Teachers are among the few who can make a decent living and have enough money to live out our lives with dignity. Pensions and benefits and a liveable wage are things we NEED to live comfortably but are now offered by few jobs aside from teaching, and can we blame people for pursuing one of the few jobs that can give them this that they could get with the "useless" BA?

Posted by Alicia Cumming, Nov 8, 2012 12:29 PM

I am an occasional teacher with TDSB. Since the new McGuinty bill 115, teachers are going to work sick and stressed out. How do you think this will effect students? Occasional teachers have taken a blow to their ability to make a living as they are rarely being called. I get called 1/3 of the time that I was called in previous years and I am now thinking of getting a part time job. I am now a board website job stalker, frequenting several board websites looking for jobs. I am still paying my student loans. Had I known that this is what it was going to be like. I would have continued in school part-time and paid for it with my own money. I feel like I was deceived into becoming a teacher. It hurts read comments alluding to teachers being people with no other potential. Our jobs are not easy, and despite what people think, it was a CHOICE for most of us. I could have been a doctor, lawyer, nurse, business owner, accountant or human resources specialist. I did co-op while I was in high school at a local elementary school and became interested in education. All someone had so say was, ITS SATURATED, and I wold have done something else. After all I have invested, it is hard to move on. I do love kids, and it hurts that someone like me may have to leave the field. More room for well-connected-opportunists that could care less about students and lack overall passion.

Posted by Meeka, Nov 7, 2012 8:00 PM

I am a B.Ed student and I must say that not only am I not impressed with the program, I am starting to doubt whether I want to go into the career. People are just waiting to eat you alive here.. there are literally no places to reflect, to discuss, etc... I find that a one year B.Ed program was from the beginning a horrible idea, except maybe when there was a severe shortage.

I am not enjoying things at all. I had huge problems with my placement and didn't feel as though I was fitting in. Part of me really wants to say 'to hell with teaching!' i have a Masters in philosophy and am maybe considering a College degree in research analysis or media so that I could maybe do that.

Posted by Anonymous B.Ed Student, Oct 26, 2012 11:09 AM

LEAVE ONTARIO....

I have taught in Ontario and left.... there are WAY better opportunities in other parts of CANADA!

I make LITERALLY DOUBLE what I made teaching in Ontario.. class sizes are SMALLER... So I actually get to make a difference in the lives of my students.. Again all while still IN CANADA! :D

As far as teaching for the money... GET OUT NOW... if I put the same hours/effort in at McDonalds I'd be a Manager of a few of them by now, own stocks etc... Most jobs will pay you FAR better for 70-80 hours a week!

Posted by Jon, Oct 20, 2012 11:40 PM

Why the surprise and indignation? Two factors at work here.#1. Demographics....a shrinking youth population = less kids to teach. Won't change.
#2. A post secondary system funded on a per student basis. No teacher education program is going to reduce enrollment = less revenue. Won't change voluntarily.

Posted by Terry Lane, Oct 11, 2012 10:05 AM

Why are so many people blaming the schools and the Gov't for the oversupply? If someone is applying to teachers college, then they should be well aware of the risks of doing so (i.e. supply is MUCH higher than demand). The Gov't doesn't need to put caps on admissions to other programs since the students will naturally gravitate to the careers with the most employment prospects. If someone goes through teachers college when the job market is so obviously saturated, then they have no one to blame but themselves if they can't find a job.

Posted by Brian, Oct 10, 2012 6:43 PM

I am so sick of how bad the situation is. I just want to go crazy! I honestly feel like a victim of some type of bizarre abuse. For 4 years I have applied to hundreds and hundreds of jobs and not even a single interview. It defies all logic. I call the school boards and they say to check their websites regularly for postings, well they only post jobs for one day. You miss that one day you have to wait another year for openings again. I am developing obsessive compulsive disorder checking the same websites every single day. If the Internet goes down I feel like the sky is going to fall. When is this going to stop? When can I start living my life?

Posted by Adam, Oct 4, 2012 11:52 PM

For people who are hungry for jobs, teaching positions are available in Toronto. I did meticulous research before returning for teacher's college. I analyzed the school I would go to, poured over all available employment data regarding teachers, and carefully selected my teachables and then some. When other's slept, I worked my butt off all summer and landed a job less than a month after graduation. People have to do their homework before they go into programs with low employment prospects and stop crying afterwards. Personal responsibility

Posted by Employed New Teacher, Aug 22, 2012 11:29 PM

A lot of the users here have posted a lot of great comments. I completely agree with the fact that you do not realize what teaching entails until you do the job. However, people who are not teachers do not realize this and may continue to naively think that teaching is a 9-3 job with great pay and holidays. I am a Canadian teacher but relocated to the UK for a teaching job. In my opinion, the Scottish government got it right last year. They not only acknolwledged the oversupply of teachers but they took the steps to rectify the problem. Universities were capped on their intake and they implemented a new pay scheme for supply teachers. Any supply teacher is paid on the bottom scale of teaching and not paid according to their years of experience. This resulted in many retired teachers dropping off the supply list because it was no longer worth the money for their years and years of expertise. Now young teachers are able to at least get their foot in the door by getting on the supply list.

Posted by Susan, Aug 11, 2012 3:55 PM

There may be a glut at the provinical level, but other parts of Canada notably the north has a shortage and there are thousands of jobs overseas, especially teaching in English.

Posted by Dr. Frank F. Mallory, Jul 25, 2012 7:36 PM

I believe that oversupply is not only in the teaching profession but it is in every profession.You can not stop somebody if he/she wants to be a teacher.It is his/her luck, hard work or talent that will give job.Teacher and Doctor is a noble profession and you should be ready to face the challenges.I quite positive that there is job in every profession for the the deserving candidates.Have patience.

Posted by Daljit Khangura, Jun 25, 2012 6:49 PM

Too many teachers? Try too many of just about everything! I don't know how many times I have read something like this for one profession or another. It's discouraging. There are too many ___ fill in the blank _____ but not enough ___ fill in the next blank. Then they train a lot of the latter, and in 5 years, there are too many of that! Oh, and don't believe the "baby boomers will be retiring in droves" nonsense. We heard that too, 15 years ago. Some retired, but few were replaced. And many just didn't retire, and never will, it seems. Ontario discouraged me and my husband so much that we left - and ultimately left Canada. Canada subsidized our educations - we were both good enough to get scholarships, and went to grad school. I got 2 Masters degrees; my husband has a PhD. Now another country is benefiting, and we'll likely never be back. It's nuts - how can Canada keep paying to educate people to benefit other countries?

Posted by Rosa, Jun 18, 2012 1:25 PM

Many moons ago there was a short supply of teachers. Fast forward to today and suddenly there are too many applicants? Suddenly everyone loves kids and wants to teach? I don’t buy it. The truth is they just see the money and the holidays – - NOT THE CHILDREN! Ask any qualified teacher to go and teach in the USA and there's no way they would because they be chewed out. They are treated terribly and paid horribly as well. Any true teacher with a passion would go to the states for work regardless of pay and treatment. Sad to say that they are not flocking there in drones to help the USA education crisis that is happening now. Teachers of today are not the same as yesterday. The proof is in the pudding. Just ask any university how unprepared students transitioning from high schools are (in terms of writing, grammar etc). This just filters down to start of a child’s education. Even in my house my parents had to dish out a ton of cash for tutoring for my sibling. No wonder there is a tutoring business boom making a ton of cash. Students are finishing university and when they realize they have no employable skills, they decide to go to teachers college (because that’s all they’re merely qualified to do) and end up in a long waiting line. I was there. I did the same. Finished u of t, applied and was accepted to to OISE but didn’t go because I didn’t want to wait forever for full time work and to get my life started. I didn’t care about kids education. And I bet my last dollar that the majority of students being pumped out of teaching colleges are in the same mind frame. Instead i got into an industry where there is a demand for new blood where there will be boomers retiring making very good coin. Not gonna spill the beans where. So i guess what i am saying is if this is your passion and you have geared your whole life to this profession and your motives are just, go for it. All the best to you. But from what I can tell you better know some people because that’s the only way to get some work. I know some teachers that got in the TCDSB and TDSB right away because their parents are teachers. all nepotism and that`s the bottom line.

And FYI on this full day kindergarten program, anybody think its a little odd that premier Dalton (aka “premier dad” ) is pushing something his WIFE IS DIRECTLY A PART OF. Ironic that his wife is a kindergarten teacher and he is implementing full day kindergarten in Ontario. Coincidence? I think not. She just gives him the old wink wink nod nod. So long as Dalton is in he will do what it takes to keep his wife and teaching colleagues happy.

Posted by fulltimeworker, Jun 5, 2012 2:46 PM

I'm not sure how it is in Canada, but in New Zealand the teaching colleges have shifted from a government controlled system which carefully regulated teaching graduate numbers for each subject to a corporate bums on seats approach where the teaching colleges take as many recruits as possible regardless of school demand. This means we have massive oversupply of teaching graduates in some subjects like Geography and Physical Education.

I'm a history grad and I was livid when I turned up my first history teaching tutorial and there were about three times as many students as I was expecting. What made things even worse was the history part of my teacher training didn't even start until half way through the course so there was no way to pull out and get a refund on my fees.

Posted by Mike, May 24, 2012 3:04 AM

Interesting viewpoints presented in the comments.
I have a very different perspective; I am in a niche technology industry that is in a shortage of well-trained students. The colleges and universities seem to have great difficulty in turning out graduates with the current skills required for them to be job ready in my industry. I recognized this and I briefly joined the ranks of educators at the college level only realize how difficult is to bring any real change to college (and I assume university) policy and programs. I also try to look at problems from the big picture, not just from the point of view of one segment.
The inability of the ministry to foresee job market potential for graduates is the root cause of this graduate crisis. Statistics Canada has the numbers and the ability to predict the future job markets is there. While this is not ever going to be perfect, it would greatly improve major oversights like this.
The second major issue is the post-secondary world’s inability to quickly react to enrolment and program variations. Buildings and classrooms can shift from one program to another. But the institutions have to be more flexible to allow this to happen. It is possible; many industries in the private sector re-invent themselves constantly in anticipation of market fluctuations.
My final comment is one to correct the current situation. While probably very unpopular, the teachers unions need to be broken (Post-secondary as well). They are relics of a bygone era, and now create more issues for our society as a whole than they solve. All teachers are not equal, and unfortunately we have many that are sub-par while excellent educators do not have employment in their field. Wages need to be reduced and based on merit of the individual rather than position and “points”, and boards need to be given the ability to replace ineffective and problematic teachers with new ones. This is how supply and demand works in the real world.
As a final shot to the teachers I have enraged with this final comment (mostly the ones that would be affected); Welcome to "real" professional job market of 2012. Be good at what you do, be difficult to replace at your job, or dust your resume off.

Posted by Kevin T, May 16, 2012 5:08 AM

I am a certified teacher from Ontario, but have lived outside Canada for 20 years.There are many jobs overseas where you will be treated and paid well while learning about multi-culturalism..Although I've often found Canadian schools may have a very local element because there aren't always enough Canadians to make up the majority of the teachers or students, the American schools are sometimes more of a match for Canadian teachers. Why? Often there are more North American teachers and students, and sometimes less subject to interests of locals who may prefer rote practice to the process, for example. There are many international fairs and the overseas principals often go to 6 different countries to recruit, bring a wealth of experience. Often smaller schools overseas can offer more advancement opportunities than the larger, more established ones. Good luck to teachers finding jobs overseas and returning when the market improves.

Posted by Sandie Bryan-King, May 14, 2012 6:27 AM

Canada is truly a multicultural and multireligious country. Having catholic school boards representing one faction with catholic ties as prerequisite for teachers and students as well should be reconsidered. All the religions should be taught in public schools by professionally qualified teachers in their respective religious studies.
The number of students overcrowding the public schools as compared to the sparse population in catholic schools ( yet with equal exhaustion of resources) needs to be balanced as well.

Posted by Mrehman, Mar 12, 2012 4:29 PM

I see only two solutions:

1. Do NOT allow retired teachers on the supply list.
A - They earn BOTH their pension AND get paid for supplying. This is double-milking the system. Thousands of teachers can't even get on the supply list because it is filled with retired teachers!! New teachers are left in professions they are over-qualified for, struggle to pay off their student debt, have to move to another country (Canada loses highly intelligent individuals...), or have to go back to school for something entirely different. In regards to the supply teaching problem, I imagine most high school students would prefer a young supply teacher over a retiree who likely has out-dated teaching methods.

2. Reduce class sizes creating more jobs. This will reduce the amount of unemployed teachers as well as benefit students, as classes will be smaller and individual student-teacher interaction will be frequent. This will even improve Canada's education system.

Becoming a teacher is the only career I have ever seen myself in. It's in my blood and it's my passion, yet I am beyond terrified to start the job hunt in the next year.

It's about time the government assisted new teachers in the job hunt. This is a truly horrible situation and is evidently delaying marriage and child rearing plans for thousands of Canadians.

Posted by Kerri, Mar 6, 2012 4:04 PM

@Patricia... The salary is not the problem. Grads in Ontario had better not be going into Teachers College because it's the easiest or only way to make good money right out of University. If they are, they are terribly deluded and will likely face great disappointment. And if you think the salaries for teachers in Ontario are "unrealistic", you really have no idea what is involved in a full-time teacher contract. Trust me... anyone who teaches for a living and stays with it for longer than a year or two is passionate about teaching. Or a bit crazy. Or both. But not because it's easy money, because it's anything but that.

Posted by Discouraged Educator, Jan 23, 2012 5:12 PM

Ontario teachers are the highest paid teachers in Canada -- why don't they cut the wages back to a "realistic" salary and see how many students want to be teachers. I believe strongly that is precisely why so many students go on to teacher's college nowadays -- not because they have a passion for teaching but because where else do you make that kind of money right out of university.

Posted by Patricia, Jan 21, 2012 8:06 PM

The retired supply teachers are a small part of the problem, but it's principally a financial issue. The losers are all of the people who are committed to borrowing thousands of dollars to enter one of the most stressful but rewarding professions: teaching and guiding young students to be responsible, contributing members of society and life-long learners. And what are they rewarded with? Student loan debt and a generally hopeless job situation. So what do they do? Well, grind it out for several years as a glorified baby-sitter (sub) or go overseas where all of their hard-work and investments are at least recognized and rewarded. And all of this so that Universities can continue to make money off of aspiring young would-be professionals. It seems to be a combination of a kind of corporate greed and terrible financial planning (which itself is probably at least semi-intentional for the purposes of making certain people in certain positions a lot richer). Sad.

Posted by Discouraged Educator, Jan 2, 2012 12:38 PM

most of the teachers i know here in new brunswick work at call centers. there is one guy i know who works at tims. great eh!

Posted by sp, Dec 26, 2011 9:06 PM

I have recently moved to the UK and have taken on a supply contract. Thankfully I have been working every day for the past 3 months as a supply teacher which is more than had I stayed in Canada. I think a major issue with the system, other than the obvious of way too many teachers being graduated from BEd programs, is that retired teachers are coming back for supply and LTO and taking potentially positions away from the newly graduated. Majority of boards require you to serve on the supply list before being able to apply for full time within that board. As retirees continue to take spots on supply lists and fill LTOs, us newly grads are left moving to a new country, reconsidering our life plan, and unable to start paying back our mounting debt.

Posted by london life, Dec 2, 2011 2:38 PM

The Minstry of ED should not be allowing
so many students into Teacher's College if there are no jobs for them.

Doesn't M of E evaluate the market for Teachers first ?

Same goes for other University programs.

Posted by Jim GIllespie, Nov 28, 2011 10:21 AM

Yes, I've tried for four years to get full-time permanent work in Ontario and gave up - I now teach full-time in New Zealand and it's fantastic. I don't think I'll be coming back anytime soon. I am sad to think of all the good teachers that want to have a family and start a future that really can't afford to because they can't get solid work. The system is 100% flawed and it shows.

Posted by TK, Nov 15, 2011 12:13 AM

Having graduated from a teaching program in 2007 and moving to another province to teach, I know the reality of this situation.
I truly think now, and I did going through my teacher training, that the Universities should not allow every person enrolled in the teaching program to graduate. The only way that a student could 'fail' appeared to be if they did something highly inappropriate during their teaching practice placements. Once you are accepted into the program, pay your fees and show up for class, you will become a certified teacher. There needs to be a further sorting out process involved to reduce not only the number of new teachers put out into the world, but to reduce those people who really just should not teach.

Posted by Kristen, Nov 14, 2011 6:33 AM

Solution: Retired teachers are not allowed to sub or take on LTOs.

Posted by Had to move to BC, Nov 13, 2011 6:20 PM

This was an interesting article that sadly confirms everything that I'd heard anecdotally from friends and family. I know at least 3 new teacher's college grads who have given up on teaching entirely after sevearal long years of chasing work with nothing to show for it. The other new grads get surplussed all the time and have to move all over Toronto for work. It's hellish and I feel very bad for them because I am sure the teacher's college faculties never told them the real numbers about employment. Like many other areas, they were also told that baby boomer would be retiring in droves, which is partially true, but the supply more than makes up for the demand.

Posted by Matt W, Nov 13, 2011 5:00 PM


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