Jobs prospects worsen

28th August 2009 at 01:00
Teacher unemployment doubles and more probationers look further afield for work

Teacher unemployment is at its highest in four years, and has doubled since last July. It has also emerged that record numbers of "increasingly desperate" probationers have been tempted to rural and remote areas by the Government's financial incentive to disperse them throughout Scotland.

The figures reinforce the dire picture of job prospects for new teachers revealed last week in the annual TESS survey. It showed the number of last session's probationers securing permanent jobs at the start of the school year had dropped from 32 per cent in 2007 to 15 per cent this year.

Now, The TESS can reveal that the number of teachers claiming unemployment benefit last month shot up to more than 500, the highest number of nursery, primary and secondary teachers on the dole in any month since January 2005, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This June, 255 teachers were claiming unemployment benefit, rising to 535 in July. This is a significant upward trend, compared with 125 who signed on in June last year and 270 last July. The July figures for teachers claiming unemployment benefit for the three years from 2005 to 2007 were 205, 270 and 235.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Teacher recruitment picks up with the re-opening of schools, as adjustments are made to their staffing requirements. We wouldn't expect every probationer to have a job at the start of the school term as vacancies arise throughout the year. This is reflected through regular GTC Scotland surveys, with the last one from April showing 89 per cent of post-probationer teachers employed in a teaching role."

Meanwhile, 427 probationers have applied this year for the preference waiver scheme, up 39 per cent on last year. It pays pound;6,000-pound;8,000 to graduates who agree to a post anywhere in Scotland. The number is likely to rise over the coming weeks, yet is already a record for the scheme which started in 2004-05. There were 242 applications from secondary teachers and 185 in the primary sector, compared to 183 and 125 in 2008.

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, said new teachers were becoming "increasingly desperate about their prospects". They were becoming ever more aware that the chances of finding a job in the central belt were "virtually non-existent" and, therefore, were more willing to move to other parts of the country.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary at the Educational Institute of Scotland dealing with employment issues, said dwindling job prospects in the larger authorities were likely to have made more probationers apply: "The grapevine is saying that people need to cast their net a bit wider."

The Scottish Government attributes the rise to the increase in payment at secondary level, to pound;8,000 from pound;6,000 last year, but the primary payment has stayed at pound;6,000.

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