TEACHER training is competing with lucrative salaries, golden hellos and even a training wage. No wonder few are interested in a career in education.
City law firms pay students more than Pounds 20,000 plus perks during their one-year training - and that follows grants of around Pounds 3,500 a year while at college. Even their law school fees are paid.
Student nurses on a postgraduate course pay no fees and receive a non-means tested bursary of at least Pounds 4,450 a year - Pounds 5,785 if they are over 26 and live in London.
A trainee doing a postgraduate certificate of education would not pay fees but would have to take out a loan for maintenance. And, until this week's special payment plans, there was little on offer.
They might have received help from the Teacher Training Agency's shortage subject bursaries which in cases of hardship reach a maximum of Pounds 2,500 a year.
Few are surprised that applications for the PGCE are down 6 per cent on last year and 20 per cent short of the Government target. For the first time the number of women applicants has fallen. In maths and modern languages, the Teacher Training Agency now reckons it must snap up almost all the new graduates.
The TTA has told the teachers' pay review body that incentive funding should be targeted on trainees in maths, science, foreign languages, design and technology, IT, geography and RE.
Although there were more than 17,000 enquiries following the TTA's recruitment campaign, there have been problems translating these into firm applications.
Money is a big issue. According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters the mean starting salary for all graduates in 1996-97 was Pounds 17,133 with perks adding an average 15 per cent. This rose to Pounds 28,668 after five years.
The starting salary for teachers is Pounds 15,012. A teacher in a school outside London with five years' experience and no extra responsibility points would get Pounds 19,530. The same teacher would need an extra 5.5 responsibility points for a salary of Pounds 27,633, or to become a deputy head in a group 3 school to earn at least Pounds 27,159. A young City lawyer earns this after a mere two years in the job.