TUI lunchtime protests - Teacher shortages will worsen unless pay equality is accelerated

By TUI , Thursday, 1st February 2018 | 0 comments

On the day that Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) members around the country hold lunchtime protests over pay inequality, Union President Joanne Irwin has warned that an already bad situation will get much worse ahead of the next school year unless pay parity is restored for those employed since 2011.

‘It can no longer be denied that pay inequality is threatening the quality of the education system,’ she said. ‘Reports and statistics from school management bodies, the higher education institutes and teacher unions consistently cite every-growing difficulties in recruiting teachers in second level subjects including Irish, modern languages, across the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas and Home Economics.’

‘The range of subjects affected will inevitably have broadened further by next September unless the only guaranteed remedy – a restoration of pay equality – is implemented.’  

‘It is wrong-headed and disingenuous for the Department to suggest that these shortages are mere ‘pinch points’ across some subject areas.’

‘A range of trends and statistics from a variety of sources provide evidence of much deeper problems around the recruitment and retention of teachers. Applications for post-primary teaching courses have collapsed by 62% since 2011, while a TUI survey carried out last year found that 29% of recent entrants did not see themselves in the profession in ten years’ time. Meanwhile, the emigration rate of second level teaching graduates multiplied fivefold over a six-year period.’

‘Tellingly, these problems are also evident in other sectors of the education system. The further education sector is struggling to recruit suitably qualified teachers for modules such as social care, digital media and the STEM disciplines as better employment options are available elsewhere.’

‘At third level, some Institutes of Technology have reported difficulties in recruiting staff at Assistant Lecturer level –  the entry grade. In a number of cases, advertisements have not attracted any applications and the posts have had to be re-advertised.’

‘The real reason behind this crisis is abundantly clear. Those teachers and lecturers who entered the system since 2011 are paid at a lower rate than their colleagues for carrying out the same work, and graduates who might formerly have chosen teaching are now choosing other employment options.’

‘We are completely unimpressed by the various ‘sticking plaster’ solutions that have been suggested by the Minister and his Department. Amending the terms of the career break scheme or offering incentives to study in certain areas will not address the key problem here.’ 

‘The OECD’s Government At A Glance report last year confirmed the high levels of public confidence in the Irish education system, with 83% expressing their satisfaction compared to the international average of 67%. This high standing is being put at risk by the inertia being shown by the Minister around these critical issues.’

‘Pay inequality has undermined the profession and corroded staff morale, leading to a crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers. This inevitably impairs the quality of service to students.  Unless and until this is addressed, the crisis will deepen.’

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