More than 1,000 teachers have signed an online petition to Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, protesting at a lack of jobs.
They want to change the rule which says newly-qualified teachers in England can only do short-term supply work for four terms. After that they can only accept posts lasting at least a term, enabling them to start their induction year.
In Wales, the regulations were changed in August to allow NQTs to do short-term supply work for five years before starting the induction year.
In both countries, induction requires the completion of three full-time terms although these do not have to be consecutive or at the same school.
In Wales, the "terms" can be consecutive half-terms. Induction is expected to be completed within five years.
Sue Rawlinson, 47, who works in the North-west, gave up a job in further education to train as a secondary English teacher. She took the graduate training programme route, earning pound;13,000 on a seven-month accelerated course.
After two terms doing maternity cover last year, she found little supply work in the summer term. Since September, she has managed to get just three days' work. She said: "I had worked in FE for five years when I saw the adverts crying out for teachers. Now I am on Jobseekers' Allowance."
Petitioners also worry that schools are using cover supervisors for jobs previously done by supply teachers.
The Training and Development Agency for Schools says that 90 per cent of trainees got a job within six months of leaving last year.
A spokeswoman said: "We now have a situation where heads with a vacancy can look at several people and make a decision based on who has the right skills and knowledge for their school."