New probationer employment figures published by the General Teaching Council for Scotland this week have revealed that only one newly qualified teacher in five found a full-time, permanent teaching job this session in Scotland.
The findings from a survey of 2,914 post-probationers, to which 1,222 (41.9 per cent) responded, showed a drop in full-time permanent employment in Scotland to 20.5 per cent from last year's figure of 25.5 per cent - one in four. A further 7.4 per cent - 90 teachers - said they had found teaching jobs outwith Scotland.
The GTCS's survey at the same time four years ago showed 48 per cent of probationers had found full-time, permanent work, while three years ago, that figure was down to 35.7 per cent.
The findings will raise pressure on the Education Secretary, Michael Russell, and local authorities to fulfil their promise of job opportunities for all of this year's 2,800 probationers to apply for.
Mr Russell said the figures did not reflect the current position: the latest JobSeeker Allowance reports showed a drop in teacher unemployment for the ninth month in a row.
"Nor do they take into account the deal we agreed at the end of 2010 with local authorities to offer a post for every new probationer; posts for all finishing probationers to apply for; and additional posts to further reduce teacher unemployment. This deal will see teacher employment rates improve further," he added.
At 41.9 per cent, the response rate to the annual spring survey is the highest in four years. Some 2.4 per cent of respondents were on part-time permanent contracts, while 25.5 per cent were on full-time temporary contracts and a further 10.3 per cent on part-time temporary contracts. Of those on temporary contracts, nearly 78 per cent were on either 10-12 month or six-nine month contracts.
John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, said this suggested authorities were preparing to meet the commitment to offer jobs to all those seeking them. With only two post-probationers saying they were on contracts for two weeks or less, this suggested that few supply teachers would be hit by the cut in payment rate for short-term supply, he added.
Full-time and part-time supply contracts were held by 8.6 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively. Just over 11 per cent were on a supply list.
The rate of post-probationer unemployment was up from 13.5 per cent last year to 16.2 per cent.
Anthony Finn, chief executive of the GTCS, said: "This is clearly a cause for concern, as is the drop in the number of former probationers achieving full-time permanent employment.
"We are acutely aware of the financial constraints faced by public bodies across Scotland and accept that this will impact to a certain extent on teacher employment. We must ensure, however, that these highly-skilled new teachers who have been through a teacher induction scheme described as `world class' by the OECD, are able to find work in the classroom."
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS union, said: "Falling numbers of teachers, combined with the increase in short-term and temporary contracts, are combining to create a new underclass of new teachers, employed - where they are employed at all - on precarious employment contracts with little hope of a permanent job or career progression."
TOP PROBATIONER TAKES DRAMA TO ANOTHER STAGE
In Richie McColm's time as a probationer at Perth Grammar, he has not only set up the school's drama department and increased drama uptake for Standard grade by 400 per cent, but also changed the lives of some of his students.
As a result, he has been named probationary teacher of the year at this week's Scottish Education Awards in Glasgow. But perhaps his greatest prize has been to secure a rare permanent position - teaching drama at his current school.
Mr McColm, 31, said he felt lucky to be working at Perth Grammar, which would always have been his choice despite commuting every day from Glasgow.
Providing a job for one year for all post-probationers was an achievable aim for the Government, he said.
After a first career in marketing, Mr McColm has put his heart and soul into teaching. Apart from setting up his school's drama department, he has also started an after-school drama club and workshops to train prefects in conflict management.
Depute head Jayne Horsburgh said Mr McColm was an inspiration to pupils and teachers alike.
While the sharp increase in drama uptake will cause him staffing problems in two years' time, headteacher John Low insisted it was a "nice problem to have".
"Richie is absolutely wonderful. Nothing is a problem. He is always willing to do more for the kids," Mr Low said.
Joshua McKeown, S4, said being taught by Mr McColm had changed his life and made him consider a possible career in drama or theatre. "That would not have happened without him. I used to get into fights in school and he showed me how to calm down."