Three-quarters of last year's probationers have failed to secure full-time, permanent teaching posts, according to figures released yesterday by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
The figures also reveal an increase in temporary contracts, prompting warnings of the "casualisation" of the teacher workforce.
The GTCS survey nevertheless shows that 65.5 per cent of post-probationers are in full-time work of some description - 34.2 per cent on temporary contracts, 6.4 per cent doing supply work and 24.9 per cent on full-time permanent contracts this spring. Although only one in four has found a full-time permanent job, that still marks an improvement on the figures for the same time last year (20.5 per cent).
The employment figures released yesterday by the GTCS are an update of those it published for the same 2010-11 cohort of probationer teachers in autumn last year. The most recent response rate was 22.7 per cent compared with 44.9 per cent in spring last year, but was still a valid sample, said the GTCS.
Chief executive Anthony Finn (pictured above) described the latest results as a "positive sign". It looked as if the new teacher employment figures had "bottomed out" in 2009-10 and were now rising, he said. Nevertheless, this year's figures still compare poorly with 2006-07 when 48 per cent of respondents to the GTCS survey reported they had full-time permanent posts by spring of the following year.
The growing use of temporary contracts was bad for the stability of the profession and the consistency of teaching for Scottish pupils, Mr Finn warned.
Of the new teachers who served their probation in 2006-07, 28.5 per cent were employed under full-time or part-time temporary contracts by spring 2008; for the most recent group of post-probationers, that rate has increased to 44.3 per cent.
"These figures show an improving picture of the job prospects for our probationer teachers," said Mr Finn. "There are clearly still difficulties - too many talented teachers are struggling to find employment."
The EIS union welcomed the rise in the number of probationers finding work but called for more efficient workforce planning. It would like to see a minimum staffing standard for schools.
The agreement between the Scottish government and councils to maintain teacher numbers at 51,131 was responsible for the increase in temporary contracts, said general secretary Larry Flanagan. But he warned against "the casualisation of the workforce", saying "it removes employment security, which downgrades the attractiveness of teaching and impacts upon the ability of staff to build relationships with pupils and keep up-to- date through continuing professional development".
A Scottish Government spokesman attributed the rise in temporary contracts to last year's one-year budget settlement and predicted that the return to three-year settlements would bring a fall in temporary contracts. He said the government had secured an agreement with councils that they will maintain teacher numbers in line with pupil numbers throughout the period.
How the figures stack up
24.9% - Proportion of probationers with full-time permanent jobs in 2012, compared with 20.5 per cent in 2011
4.2% - Proportion of probationers with part-time permanent jobs in 2012, compared with 2.4 per cent in 2011
34.2% - Proportion of probationers with full-time temporary jobs in 2012, compared with 25.5 per cent in 2011
12% - Proportion of unemployed probationers in 2012, compared with 16.2 per cent in 2011.
Original headline: Three-quarters of probationers failed to secure full-time posts
Photo credit: GTCS