Nova Scotia

Too many new teachers looking for jobs in N.S: report

There are too many teachers looking for work in Nova Scotia and too few jobs, says a new report to the province's Education Minister.

There are too many teachers looking for work in Nova Scotia and too few jobs, says a new report to the province's education minister.

A three-person panel found that 1,029 new teachers are graduating each year and job hunting in the province, but fewer than 400 are needed in province's classrooms.

Of the new teachers looking for jobs in 2006, just 370 graduated from Nova Scotia universities while 659 received their N.S. teacher certificates from other Atlantic universities or Canadian or foreign schools.

The Review of Teacher Education in Nova Scotia, released Wednesday, recommends that universities with teacher-education agreements with schools outside Nova Scotia end those partnerships.

Cape Breton University in Sydney, for example, offers courses from Memorial University in St. John's, N.L., at its own campus. Dalhousie University in Halifax recently announced a similar arrangement with Memorial.

Saint Mary's University in Halifax is linked with the University of Maine, to allow students to attend the American campus. Many of these students come back to the province for their practicum placements or to look for jobs.

In 2006, the University of Maine issued 230 Nova Scotia teaching certificates, while Memorial University issued 88.

The panel found that 25 per cent of teaching positions within the Halifax Regional School Board were filled by Maine students.

Education Minister Karen Casey said she was a bit surprised to hear the labour-market numbers because she expected more teachers would be needed.

"I was of the same belief that with retirements in the baby boomers, for example, that a number of jobs would be opening up for new students, new graduates," Casey said.

"However, I have to respect what the data is telling me and I also recognize that with our declining enrolment, we will have to have fewer teachers in our schools, and so that means fewer opportunities."

Casey said universities need to pay attention to what the numbers say, and use the data to determine what programs they offer.

The public has until Feb. 13 to comment on the report.

The review panel, which was appointed in June, is made up of Daniel O'Brien, former president and vice-chancellor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, Myra Freeman, a retired teacher and former lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, and Bill Whelan, a former superintendent of education at four Atlantic Canada school boards.

"Our goal was to take a generally good system of teacher education and suggest ways to make it better," O'Brien said.

The report found that there is a large pool of substitute teachers who aren't getting much work. Most of the substitutes are looking for work as substitutes in English, social studies, sciences and business education.

It also found that more than 700 substitute teachers are leaving either the province or the profession every year because they can't get jobs.

The panel found that while the Halifax region has an oversupply in the substitute teacher pool, other school boards in more rural areas of the province report having problems getting enough teachers.

Education programs are offered at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Acadia University in Wolfville and Université Sainte-Anne in Digby County.