ISSUES & CHALLENGES: The Education sector population is ageing – persons aged 55+ make up 16% of workers in the sector. Employment prospects for most educational service occupations – other than school teachers – are average. Specific occupations have good prospects, including university professors, community service and social workers, early childhood educators and paralegals.
Teachers, in particular, have limited prospects due to a number of reasons. There are now roughly 7,000 more certified teachers entering the profession each year than there are retirement spots to fill. The rate of first-year regular-job success for French-language teachers has fallen to 51% from 72%. The job situation is particularly acute for new teachers qualified in the Primary-Junior divisions. Part-time teaching has increased from 38% to 43%, and underemployment continues to rise and now stands at 43%. Even qualifications in high-demand fields do not significantly increase the employment rate of immigrant teachers. 64% of Ontario graduates with high-demand qualifications in math, chemistry and French are employed as full-time teachers by the end of their first year of certification, while only 19% of immigrant teachers with the same high-demand qualifications are fully employed. Consultations with schools and colleges have outlined recruitment and retention challenges at executive leadership levels.
POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: The 2010 Ontario College of Teachers report, Transition to Teaching, does not suggest any solutions to the oversupply issue. Although unconventional, one idea to increase options for employment for foreign-trained teachers may be to get school boards to explore the introduction of broader language courses beyond European languages. Considering that Canadians are increasingly multicultural and economic growth opportunities lie in the developing nations situated in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, this may, in fact, promote social inclusion and long-term economic growth. Educational institutions may also need to adopt a more systematic approach and long-term view of leadership development aligned to their strategic goals and vision.
A Conference Board of Canada Report rates Canada a ‘D’ in innovation. Only 2% of businesses in Ontario conduct research and development that would support innovation and improve competitiveness. Educational institutions – colleges and universities – have an important role in stimulating innovation through applied research and college-industry collaboration. Ottawa’s colleges and universities could combine their capabilities and territorial advantage to enhance innovation by developing the right workforce (through education and training) and utilizing their knowledge capacities to work with innovative businesses. This may also be another area in which to engage bright teaching graduates with research competencies.
Finally, Ottawa, in particular, is poised well as a knowledge-based city with several ICT and other emerging technology clusters. Given the economic restructuring that Ontario is expected to undergo in the coming decade and our ageing population, a major priority could be the examination of the role of postsecondary institutions in meeting the labour market needs of the new economy.
The Sector Summary: Education was further developed in October 2011 to provide in-depth analysis of labour market issues.