Ottawa

Go west, young teacher: B.C. schools angling for recruits in Ottawa

Schools across British Columbia are facing a major teacher shortage and are turning their sights east to recruit new graduates.

School boards in Vancouver and elsewhere in B.C. are looking east to fix a serious teacher shortage

Recruiters from British Columbia dropped by the University of Ottawa Wednesday to entice students in the education program to consider beginning their teaching careers on the West Coast. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

Wanted: eager young teachers looking for full-time work in a mild climate, surrounded by picture postcard scenery.

That's the tantalizing pitch recruiters from British Columbia's school boards are making to students in the University of Ottawa's teacher education program.

"We're here because British Columbia is experiencing a shortage of teachers," said Parmjit Hari, a district principal in Burnaby, B.C. 

Hari was in Ottawa Wednesday to attend a job fair for students who will graduate this April and she's ready to offer the newly minted teachers opportunities to get right down to work.

B.C.'s recruiting drive has switched into high gear following a decision by the province's Supreme Court that restored school funding and limited class sizes.

School boards from British Columbia are trying to woo Ontario teachers west, and some of those attending a recruitment fair in Ottawa are enthusiastic about their pitch. 0:39

"That's opened up a lot of teaching job opportunities in B.C., and especially in Vancouver, " said Ranjit Bains, principal at Kitsilano Secondary School in Vancouver.

There are currently 34 vacant positions in Vancouver, with another 100 expected in September, Bains said. 

Then Bains brought up the natural lure of the West Coast.

 "Of course we have the beauty."

Openings at all levels

Recruiters say there are job openings for teachers from kindergarten through high school, but there's an acute need for French language instructors.

"Our number 1 priority is to hire French immersion teachers," said Sean Powell, principal of the Greater Victoria School District. 

"We're having trouble filling those positions every year."

uOttawa student Devon Sutherland, right, said he's "pretty interested" in the possibility of teaching in B.C. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

Judging by the reaction among soon-to-be educators who dropped by the job fair, the pitch is working.

"I got pretty excited about it," said Devon Sutherland, who hopes to teach kindergarten and junior grades.

"I've only been to B.C. once but I really loved it, loved the mountains and the outdoors … so I am pretty interested to check that out."

Student Nathan Wheeler said he, too, is ready to make the move.

"The living out there is superb … That's why I really want to go out there."

Few teaching jobs in Ontario

Graduates of Ontario teaching programs have faced a hard time securing jobs close to home.

According to a report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, too many students have been trained for too few jobs, raising the unemployment rate among new teachers to more than 20 per cent in 2013.

The high cost of rent, especially in Vancouver, was the one common concerns expressed by students at the job fair. 

The B.C. school boards are offering moving expenses to sweeten the pot, but still advise new recruits to reduce living costs by sharing a residence when they arrive.

Despite that one drawback, Bains said she can't understand why anyone wouldn't want to move to Vancouver.

"I've been here for two days and have been experiencing this cold and snow," she said.

"[In B.C.] we definitely experience some rain, but that milder climate, you can't beat it."

"That's opened up a lot of jobs all across B.C." 0:44