As the current academic year draws to a close, the shocking statistics of the number of newly qualified teachers unemployed here in Northern Ireland will have a devastating impact on those receiving their results in the coming days who hope to go into the profession.
Last year, of the 1,163 teaching students from Northern Ireland, only 94 – a staggeringly low 8% – were able to find posts here. Of those, 679 were trained in the five teaching institutions in the North, with only 54 securing permanent positions here.
The vast majority of these teachers have now found themselves in the dole queue or working in the service industry to pay off huge debts racked up due to the rising cost of living and inadequate financial support for students.
Thanks to devastating budget cuts in education and Minister O’Dowd’s plans for school closures, the situation certainly looks bleak for those graduating this year. As schools are no longer hiring, costs in bringing in substitute teachers – mainly retired teachers struggling to get by – have soared, putting further strains on the budget.
The education of our children is fundamental in the shaping of society and these conditions cannot continue. An increased budget without cuts to other areas is needed to protect education. Through the creation of new posts, hiring of new teachers and a sustainable pension for retired teachers we could ensure a future for those seeking employment and provide better education for our young people.