Many older teachers are having to support grown-up children who are unable to find work; the additional responsibilities mean that they simply cannot afford to live off their pension, said May Ferries.
"One woman said to me: `I really wish I could give my child my job'. I thought that was very poignant," she told The TESS at last week's GTCS ceremony to welcome new teachers to the profession.
Ms Ferries sought to reassure new entrants to teaching that jobs would become available eventually. She had started teaching in 1975 at the time of a major recruitment drive, and would be retiring in November. "A huge number of teachers started then and they will be retiring, as I am; you have been trained to take our places. Unfortunately, they are not all retiring now and some of you will have to wait," she said.
However, she remained confident that new teachers would eventually find work, but acknowledged that they faced the problem, in the meantime, of how to make a living. "The problem is in the short term. Some people have got a part-time contract or maternity leave cover which is great - but it's the uncertainty that disturbs people.
"All new teachers are not straight from school. A lot have been attracted to teaching and have family commitments. As well as looking for the satisfaction of a proper job where they can develop, they need to be able to run their lives and pay for their expenses," she said.
Tony Finn, GTCS chief executive, also acknowledged the challenges of the current job market but sought to offer encouragement by emphasising that older teachers would have to retire eventually. "We do believe that things will get better - the age profile of teachers shows that many will move on soon," he said.
Schools Minister Keith Brown offered reassurance for those without work by telling them entrants to teacher education institutions had been cut this year. "Obviously, it's not in Scotland's interest to spend money training too many teachers, nor is it wise to train too few. We need to blend supply and demand. We are taking steps to reduce the intake in 2009," he said.