Barely a third of newly-qualified teachers trained in Wales last year found jobs in the country. The figures emerged this week as Jane Davidson, education and lifelong learning minister, announced 5 per cent cuts in teacher training places from 2006-7.
The cuts equate to 43 fewer primary and 53 fewer secondary NQTs, and come on top of 5 per cent cuts in this year's primary course numbers.
Further substantial reductions will be needed to bring the supply of NQTs in line with demand in Wales, according to an Assembly government-funded review of initial teacher training (ITT). But the review group is warning against across-the-board cuts, saying these could threaten specialist provision, such as Welsh-medium ITT, and make other courses besides teacher training uneconomic for universities to run.
Last year, only 303 (35 per cent) of 1,065 new primary teachers who trained in Wales managed to find jobs, according to statistics from the General Teaching Council for Wales. One headteacher in Newport received more than 200 applications for a single post.
Teacher unions and the GTCW have called for NQTs to be guaranteed a one-year induction post, so they are not lost to the profession. The Assembly government has increased the time limit for NQTs to complete induction from four terms to up to five years.
Applications to primary courses in Wales are down by a fifth this year. But more cuts in training places and course closures and mergers are needed, says the ITT review group, led by Professor John Furlong of Oxford university.
With eight providers in Wales, plus the work-based graduate teacher programme, the numbers of students on many secondary programmes are currently uneconomic, he believes.
However, a large, across-the-board percentage cut in places could seriously damage some of the provision that will be needed in the future, he warns, in a letter to the Assembly government.
And it could also have a knock-on effect on non-ITT courses, which share staff with teacher training, he adds.
Dr Carl Peters, Wales spokesman for the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said it was too early to talk about course closures.
A paper on teacher supply in Wales, produced by the review group, highlights how demand for teachers will vary across the country's regions as a result of differences in predicted pupil numbers.