Northern Ireland

Just 5% of new teachers secure permanent jobs in NI

Pupils raises hand in classroom
Image caption The number of teacher training places in Northern Ireland has been cut by a third in recent years

Only 5% of new teachers who graduated last year, and who registered for work in Northern Ireland, have managed to find permanent jobs.

The figure was revealed to the assembly on Monday by the education minister.

John O'Dowd said that of a total of 639 teaching graduates who have qualified since April 2012, 484 were registered but only 25 secured permanent posts.

The minister said: "There is no career that, if you study for it, guarantees you a job at the end."

"Teaching is clearly one of those areas," he added.

Mr O'Dowd was responding to an assembly question from the UUP MLA, Michael McGimpsey.


The minister said that over the past number of years, the number of college places for trainee teachers in Northern Ireland had been reduced by 32%.

However, he warned that continuing to "dramatically reduce our teacher training intake" could damage the viability of the two local teacher training colleges - Stranmillis and St Mary's in Belfast.

"If we do that, our students will travel to England, Wales or the south of Ireland to train as teachers. When they come back, whoever is in the ministerial post at the time will be asked, 'How many of our trainee teachers are not in work?'

"The figures will be similar, but we will have lost our teacher training colleges. We will have the lost the ability to train our teachers in our curriculum," Mr O'Dowd said.

Sara Allen is one of those struggling to find work in her chosen profession.

She graduated seven years ago, but is still without a permanent teaching post.


"It's been very tough", she told BBC Radio Ulster. "I've had various jobs doing substitute teaching or maternity cover here and there."

Since graduating, Ms Allen has managed to secure one year-long contract to date, but that ended in June and she has had to take a job outside the classroom.

She told the programme that the strict limit on the number of trainee teachers in Northern Ireland "would definitely be a good idea".

"I think that the government does need to have a look at the universities and see how many teachers they are putting through.

"A lot people - even though the numbers here are lower - are going across the water to universities in England or Scotland and getting their qualifications and coming home and there are simply no jobs for them," Ms Allen said.

However, she admitted that a lack of teacher training places or permanent teaching posts would not have deterred her from going into the profession.

'Awful waste'

"I think I would have embarked on my career regardless of knowing the employment figures out there, but I definitely would have liked to have been more aware of the employment figures when I started out," she said.

Fern Turner from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said the talents of newly qualified graduates were being wasted because of the lack of jobs, but disagreed that Northern Ireland was training too many teachers.

"The education system needs young people with enthusiasm," she said.

"We need to look at class sizes, we need to be willing to reduce class sizes and we need to ensure that this knowledge and experience is used to best effect in our schools.

"As taxpayers, we have paid for these young people to go through school and teacher training college, and isn't it an awful waste of our money too that the talents that we have are not being used in our schools?" Ms Turner added.

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