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'CRISIS': The worker shortage threatening Australia's future

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Crowd of people walking over the crosswalk at sunset. Sydney, Australia
(Image: Getty).

Australia’s most populous state faces an education “crisis” if it fails to recruit some 11,000 teachers, but current pay settings are acting as a barrier, a new report has found.

The report by education economist Adam Rorris, commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation, found NSW needs to recruit 11,000 teachers by 2031 to keep up with record enrolment growth.

And if the teacher to student ratio is lowered, then that number will need to increase to 14,000.

“The existing shortages relate to difficulty in placing teachers within hard to teach locations, insufficient teachers for certain subjects and specialised teachers for students with disabilities,” the report states.

“Suitably qualified teachers need to be recruited for the appropriate subjects, to teach in a variety of locations. They need also to be employed with satisfying work conditions and remuneration that will encourage them to stay in the teaching service for a longer term.”

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said finding the extra teachers will be challenging as there are already teacher shortages.

“NSW is facing a classroom crisis. The independent Gallop Inquiry was clear that the NSW government won’t fix the shortages or recruit the additional teachers required without a significant increase in salaries,” Gavrielatos said.

The Gallop Inquiry, chaired by former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop, found teachers’ and principals’ salaries should increase between 10 per cent and 15 per cent to make the profession more competitive.

It also suggested the NSW Department of Education create new roles for teachers which would see some advise on specific areas like disability access or the curriculum.

“While the workloads of teachers have increased every year, their salaries have fallen every year in comparison with other professions. If we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we won’t get the teachers we need,” Gavrielatos said.

NSW teachers have been proposed a 1.5 per cent annual salary increase over the next three years, something Gavrielatos warned was making the profession even less attractive.

The NSW government in 2011 introduced a 2.5 per cent growth cap on public sector wages, but both the Gallop and Rorris reports found this cap was out of step with the surging workload NSW teachers face.

“Securing the teachers we need is going to be a major challenge and NSW needs to make sure that salaries and workloads are at the levels that will make the profession attractive to high achieving young people,” Gavrielatos said.

“Investing in the profession will pay off for kids across NSW – now and in the future.”

Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance