Teachers without Classrooms


By Cassandra Oswald

Why aren’t Teachers Getting Jobs?

Ontario teachers might as well be the cast of the next Mission Impossible. Since 2005, the number of teachers relative to the number of jobs available has significantly increased (Ontario College of Teachers, 2012). It has been reported that “two-thirds of new teachers can’t find full-time work” (Nuland, 2011, p. 416). Those who do land teaching jobs are often teaching in private schools or outside of the province or even the country (Nuland, 2011). According to the Ontario College of Teachers (2012), only “one in three of those who did find some employment, secured as much teaching work as they wanted” (p. 3). One of the major reasons for the lack of teaching jobs is that teachers aren’t retiring fast enough to create available positions. In 2008, there were 12,000 new teachers while only 4,700 were retiring (Cain & Paperny, 2013).  To see a visual representation of new teachers in comparison to retirees see: http://globalnews.ca/news/378935/increasingly-ontario-graduates-shun-teachers-college/

This is a serious issue. On average students spend 5 years in post-secondary education (4 years undergrad and 1 year teachers college) and a lot of money to become teachers. Should they have to give up their passion to become teachers because it’s not easy to become one at this time? Or should they have to move out of Ontario or Canada in order to pursue their dreams?

Is the Hiring Process Unfair?

The new hiring process makes it even harder for teachers to attain jobs. Regulation 274 forces principals to hire from among the five most senior applicants (Torstar News Service, 2013). This could mean that great new teachers aren’t even being acknowledged while worse teachers are getting the job that perhaps they don’t deserve in comparison. This new regulation has also made it that when teachers switch school boards they lose all seniority (Roshowy, 2013). In my opinion this hiring system does seem unjust; however, the senior applicants have been waiting longer. Is it fairer to hire on a first-come-first serve type basis? What are your thoughts?

Does Higher Education really lead to Employment?

“Students are not choosing to attend universities for the traditional, abstract notion of learning for its own sake; rather, many students are choosing to attend university because they have been led to believe… that a university degree is the ticket for success” (Goff, 2013, p. 102). In the end, universities and colleges are businesses (Cote & Allahar, 2011). When you buy something, you expect to get what you paid for, which would typically be career success in this scenario. It is obvious that students go to teachers college to become teachers, but they aren’t typically achieving that outcome.

According to Cote and Allahar (2011), “Instead of mass education, we have actually been providing mass certification, and the large numbers of certified ‘graduates’ are not enriching the economy or society in ways that might be expected” (p. 181). It is clear that we have a substantial issue regarding not only Ontario teachers colleges, but post-secondary institutions in general across the country. Should we be getting rid of programs that don’t translate into jobs in Canada’s economy? Should we simply choose not to enrol in programs such as Humanities and Social Studies and Teachers College as they don’t typically lead to jobs?

Are there any Solutions?

Although there aren’t many teaching jobs available in Ontario, there are jobs in other parts of the country or the world. If people are willing to travel in order to pursue their passion to teach then by all means they should. According to the Ontario College of Teachers (2012), most teacher graduates are experiencing greater success outside of the province as they experience lower rates of unemployment and underemployment as well as higher rates of attaining fulltime jobs (Ontario College of Teachers, 2012).

Another option that many new teachers are taking is working in private and independent schools (Ontario College of Teachers, 2012). In fact, one in eight of 2011 graduates who secured jobs in Ontario were hired in independent schools. Finally, as most are aware, the government has decided to convert Teachers College into a two-year program rather than one (CBC News, 2013). Also, the number of teacher candidates that colleges can accept has been decreased (CBC News, 2013). Although this too can be seen as unfair, it may offer a potential solution to the growing proportion of unemployed teachers in Ontario.

What are your thoughts?


Cain, P. & Paperny, A. M. (2013, Feb 13). Increasingly, Ontario graduates shun teacher’s college. Global News. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/378935/increasingly-ontario-graduates-shun-teachers-college/
CBC News. (2013, Jun 13). Ontario to overhaul teachers’ college, halve admissions. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-to-overhaul-teachers-college-halve-admissions-1.1320533
Côté, J. E., & Allahar, A. L. (2011). Lowering higher education: The rise of corporate universities and the fall of liberal education. Toronto: The University of Toronto Press.
Goff, L. (2013). Quality assurance requirements in Ontario universities: How did we get here? In M. Kompf, & P. Denicolo (Eds.), Critical issues in higher education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Nuland, S. V. (2011). Teacher education in Canada. Journal of Education for Teaching, 37(4), 409-421.
Ontario College of Teachers (2012). Transition to teaching 2012.
Rushowy, K. (2013, Aug 30). Ontario’s seniority-based teacher hiring rules shut out talented newcomers, critics say. The Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2013/08/30/ontarios_senioritybased_teacher_hiring_rules_shut_out_talented_newcomers_critics_say.html
Torstar News Service (2013, Feb 20). Regulation 274: Officials say new hiring rule hinders Ontario teacher diversity. Metro News. Retrieved from http://metronews.ca/news/canada/566446/regulation-274-officials-say-new-hiring-rule-hinders-ontario-teacher-diversity/

Additional Resources

McIntyre, F. (2013). Transition to teaching. Professionally Speaking. Retrieved from http://professionallyspeaking.oct.ca/march_2013/features/transition.html
Sagan, A. (2013, Nov 15). New Canadian teachers head abroad amid tight job market. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-canadian-teachers-head-abroad-amid-tight-job-market-1.2426110
Statistics Canada. (2012). Population aged 25 to 64 with university education and their employment rate, Canada, provinces and territories, and selected OECD countries, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-599-x/2012008/c-g/c-g002-eng.htm
The Canadian Press. (2013, Aug 26). Degree still offers wage premium over high school. Maclean’s.ca. Retrieved from http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2013/08/26/students-dont-pick-most-lucrative-fields-cibc-study/
The Youth and Work Blog. (2014). Is teachers college worth It? Nope, here’s the proof. Retrieved from http://www.youthandwork.ca/2013/01/is-teachers-college-worth-it-nope-heres.html


4 thoughts on “Teachers without Classrooms

  1. Hi Cass-
    I really enjoyed reading your post. As a recent Bachelor of Education graduate I am in the same boat as you, along with thousands of other aspiring teachers. The reality is that there just aren’t enough jobs. Teachers are waiting much longer to retire (because they are living longer!), and even when they do ‘retire’ they often stay on as a supply teacher for their board.

    With respect to Regulation 274, I agree that the hiring process is unfair to new teachers. The way I look at it, if you’ve been on the supply list for 8+ years, there might be a reason you haven’t landed a full-time job. This is not to say that all teachers who have been on the supply list for an extended period of time are ‘bad’ teachers, some people have been victims of poor luck or circumstance. On another note, I know that many principals are not pleased with Regulation 274 as it severely limits who they can hire. However, I do know that principals have found ways around this regulation, to hire teachers not based on seniority, but based on skill and qualifications. I think we might see changes to regulation in the very near future
    (see: http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2013/11/04/ontario_teacherhiring_rule_will_come_up_in_talks_liz_sandals.html AND http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/wynne-admits-practice-of-seniority-based-hiring-of-teachers-needs-fixing/article14516696/ _)

    In terms of solutions, I think that the new 2-year Bachelor of Education program in Ontario will help ‘weed out’ potential teachers. Sadly, many people decide to enroll in teacher’s college because they don’t know what they want to do career-wise and a teaching degree only requires an 8-month commitment. Ontario is one of the few remaining provinces that still offers a 1-year teaching degree. The new 2-year program beginning in September 2015, will keep the number of spaces at 9,000, but will only accept 4,500 new applicants per year (Alphonso, Morrow, & Bradshaw, 2013). I think this program will help keep Ontario competitive with the rest of the country, and will also help thousands of unemployed teachers find work.

    I think you bring up some great points Cass. It is unfortunate that so many great teachers can’t find work. However, I think that this is a short-term problem that will likely resolve itself (when this will happen is the big question!) If teaching is what you really want to do, I think it’s important to stay motivated and not give up on your dream. Looking for related work in other provinces or countries might be the best option until positions in Ontario open up.

    Alphonso, C., Morrow, A., & Bradshaw, J. (2013, June 5). Ontario moves to halve number of teachers-college grads.¬ The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-moves-to-halve-number-of-teachers-college-grads/article12357404/

  2. Thanks for your reply Kaitlyn! I think perhaps older teachers are prolonging retirement because they can’t afford to do so. Otherwise, they might just want to stay active. Either way, it may seem unfair for both the older teachers and the newer teachers seeking employment.

    In regards to your view on the hiring process, I couldn’t agree more. It may be that the most senior applicants on the supply list are not being hired for good reasons; thus, some newer, fresher, and better teachers are likely more deserving.

    I appreciate those article links you posted. I really hope you’re right about seeing Regulation 274 being changed.

    I think having teachers college expanded to two years will discourage a lot of people from pursuing teaching now. I too hope that it leads to a solution.

    I thank you again for your response Kaitlyn and for your shared resources. It’s nice to know someone can relate to my view on this current issue. Although it is tough right now, I agree that we must stay passionate and strive to achieve our goal of becoming a teacher.

  3. Cassie,

    You raise a lot of interesting points and I love this topic as I am a current teacher who just landed a supply job. Teachers are out of jobs for a number of reasons. One problem lies within the fact that students who attended university, and are not sure what career to go into after they finish their degree, end up in the teaching field.

    Another problem, which was addressed in 2011, and now is in full effect is that retired teachers are not allowed to supply for more than 50 days within three years after they retire. As of 2012, The globe and male specifically wrote: “All retirees will be allowed to work 50 days a school year while collecting their pensions, compared to the current rule of 95 days for three years and 20 days thereafter.” This should also free up jobs for new teacher graduates looking to get supply work.

    Higher education may not necessarily lead to employment but as an applicant, it could look good on one’s resume. However from personally, I was worried about this too when applying teaching jobs, so I had stated on my resume that my masters degree is in progress, and would probably still say this on my resume, even after completing the program (if I didn’t get a teaching job). I understand that school boards are trying to save money and therefore wouldn’t want to hire someone where they would be required to pay this person more money.

    Hammer, K. (2012, August 2012). Ontario to monitor retired teachers’ costly supply work . Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-to-monitor-retired-teachers-costly-supply-work/article1211108/

  4. Thanks Danielle! Congrats on the new job! That’s great! In regards to your first point, I have wondered that myself. Since teenagers have been so exposed to teaching first hand, this is likely why so many choose to pursue this occupation themselves.

    Thank you for your information on the number of days retirees can teach per year. I wasn’t sure of the exact amount. That does help new teachers in search of supply work.

    In terms of your last point, I would be interested in asking some principals what their perspective is on hiring teachers who have their masters. Since it’s not technically something that would affect them (I don’t think) maybe it wouldn’t discourage them from hiring these individuals. Thanks for your response Danielle. I appreciate it.

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