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Young teachers forced to emigrate due to lack of jobs

WITH ever increasing pressure on permanent teaching posts across the North, more and more young educators are now being forced to move abroad to gain employment.

Until now, newly qualified teachers have relied heavily on subbing positions or maternity posts to help build experience, but this temporary work is not always guaranteed.

As a result, many local teachers are choosing to travel elsewhere for better employment opportunities and more permanent posts.
Newtownstewart native, Aisling Orr has just moved back to Qatar to begin her second year of teaching.

“My decision to move to Qatar was easy, there is a lot of uncertainty about teaching jobs here in the North and permanent posts are scarce,” said Aisling.

“I saw it as an amazing opportunity to experience living in a new country, and as the teaching curriculum is very similar to our own I just thought it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

“I found the transition of moving fairly easy having travelled with a large group of fellow graduates.”

Aisling who studied at St Mary’s University College, Belfast was home for the summer but couldn’t wait to get back to Qatar to start teaching and enjoy the sunshine again.

“I would recommend Qatar to any newly qualified teacher, there are great teaching prospects available and endless travelling opportunities.

“There is also a huge Irish community in Qatar, I joined the local GAA team and earlier this year we won the Middle Eastern Championship in Abu Dhabi.”

Other newly qualified teachers like Aisling are choosing to emigrate as their first choice.

Caoilainn Kelly from Clady, who studied also at St Mary’s University College, Belfast is heading off to Madrid to begin her first teaching position.

“It is very difficult to get a full-time post here at home. I really didn’t want to wake up each morning, waiting for my phone to ring for a subbing post that day,” said Caoilainn.

“I am young, and have no commitments here so I thought why not travel and challenge myself. I am at the age where a lot of my friends are moving away as well, so it felt like the right time for me to experience something elsewhere.”

Caoilainn sees her new venture as a great stepping stone in her career and is excited to see what the next year holds.

Caoilainn said, “I can’t wait to move to Madrid and experience a brand new culture and lifestyle. Madrid is such a vibrant city and I am looking forward to soon calling it home.”

Justin McCamphill, national official for the teacher’s union NASUWT said he is not surprised at the significant number of young graduates going abroad for work.

He explained, “There are two reasons for this, firstly there are more teachers qualifying each year from Northern Ireland than there are vacancies available for them.

“Secondly, more and more of our younger members are telling us that they are moving abroad – particularly to the Middle-East – as a result of the public sector pay cap which has greatly depressed wages for teachers since 2010.”

The Department of Education has since launched the Investing in the Teaching Workforce scheme to ensure more options are available to newly qualified teachers.

The union officer continued, “We expect that the Investing in the Teaching Workforce scheme will lead to more recently qualified teachers gaining employment at home.

“It is expected that the scheme will create up to 200 jobs for teachers who qualified between 2013 and 2017 and have not yet received permanent employment. These jobs will be advertised in autumn 2018.”

In the mean time, the attraction of higher wages, a better lifestyle and a great travelling experience are proving too good an option for many young teachers to turn down.

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