Has The Global Economic Meltdown Made Teaching A Dying Profession?
For years, many families have considered teaching a profession that could weather even the most devastating economic storms. After all, through 2009 and the first half of 2010, many universities and teaching colleges across North America have continued to see increases in both application volume and admission to their teacher certification programs. With these kind of facts, it is hard to believe that teaching as a profession is under fire? Sadly, while admissions to teacher preparation programs are encouraging, reductions in teacher employment have raised alarm bells throughout the profession. Many new teachers, despite sending out dozens, even hundreds of resumes, continue to find themselves unemployed. Moreover, this rise in unemployment has forced many to question the basic assumption that teaching as a career is stable, while supporting the argument that teaching, like other professions, remains susceptible to the basic rules of economics. This shift has seen veteran teachers in a number of regions be laid off, schools closed as districts move to reduce budgets, and given new graduates post graduation jitters. According to recent estimates, over 135,000 qualified teachers who are looking to work will be unable to find a position during the 2010-2011 school year. While this is alarming, what is even more concerning is the fact that, in both Canada and the United States, the hiring rate for new teachers in many districts has slowed. With so much uncertainty, many continue to wonder what these changes will mean for new teachers over the next 5 years? Will new teachers be able to find jobs after graduation? If so, how soon, and where?
With fewer teachers finding employment after graduating from teaching programs, many have been forced to work in non-traditional settings while persevering through the job search. Unfortunately, for most unemployed, the start of the school year has destroyed any chance of securing a post for the current school year. To compensate, some teachers without employment have re-enrolled in post-graduate teacher education programs, while others have enrolled in certificate programs that certify them to teach ECE (Early Childhood Education), gifted, or talented students. While jumping back into the private sector seems like one possible option, most private schools, charter schools and even education-related firms currently have 100% staffing levels. Still, despite the desperation, many others refuse to cede, hoping instead that the next 2 - 3 years will usher in a new era of change. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, despite the recent economic set-back which has significantly impacted teacher employment and necessitated cost cutting “most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire over the 2008–18 period.” Additionally, while less promising, the Bureau notes that, as the economy recovers, many new teachers, especially those in poorer, urban areas, may leave the profession for better employment, creating more openings for new graduates. Is the Bureau correct? Will these changes combine to re-stabilize the teaching profession, returning it to its once dominant position within the labor pool? The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has been right with some of its forecasts in the past. For teachers sake, let's hope they've got this prediction correct.