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A survey of recently graduated primary school teachers has exposed the debt and stress many are facing when trying to find and maintain a job in the industry.
The survey, conducted by the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), found that over 50% of recent graduates reported that having to reapply for their jobs had negative effects on their ability to teach.
Of those surveyed, 311 students had taken out student loans to pay for their training, with 20% owing over $30,000.
Teachers in the beginning stages of their careers added comments such as, “it feels like new teachers are being punished for being new by having a lot of uncertainty about the future” and “to be honest, if I had known how difficult it would be to get a permanent position in the area I live, I would have never trained as a teacher.”
Spokesperson for the NZEI, Stephanie Lambourn expressed that there is a shortage of primary school jobs available, adding “it’s incredibly stressful to have that sort of job insecurity.”
First year Victoria University student in the initial stages of her teaching studies, Crystal Walsh, said “it’s a scary concept thinking I might study here for three years to come out with a student loan to repay and no real job opportunities.”
When asked whether or not the Faculty of Education should further limit enrolments to the degree, Associate Dean for the Faculty of Education Dr Robin Averill said “the university does not and cannot manage the numbers against national job availability.”
She added that “a high number of Victoria graduates do go onto be employed in teaching positions.”
To increase chances of graduate employment, Averill advised those currently studying to become a teacher to get experience working with children by way of sports coaching or helping with a school club.
She also advised aiming for high grades and taking undergraduate subjects that are in demand such as Te reo Māori and statistics.