Australia’s persistent teacher shortages in schools have reached “crisis” levels, according to Education Minister Jason Clare.
Millions of students across the country are due to head back into classrooms over the next week, but schools are facing crippling staffing issues.
Amid continued reports of high teacher vacancies and a recorded drop in the number of people studying to become teachers, far more will need to be done to attract more educators into the education system, Mr Clare said.
“It’s a crisis. We don’t have enough teachers in Australia. That’s just the truth of it. This is the most important job in the world and we don’t have enough,” Mr Clare said on Tuesday.
Over the past decade, the number of people studying teaching at uni in Australia has fallen by 12 per cent.
Mr Clare said while Victoria has reported a 10 per cent increase in uni offers, only half of those students are successfully finishing their degrees and up to 20 per cent are quitting in the first three years on the job.
He said the situation was “10 years in the making.”
“We’ve got a good education system in Australia but it can be a lot better and fairer. A big part of that is fixing that course at university to get more teaching students into our classrooms. But it’s also about improving pay,” the minister said.
NSW is one of the hardest hit by teacher workforce shortages, with nearly 2,000 full-time teaching positions left unfilled at the end of 2023, according to the state’s education department.
The number of job adverts for WA public schools teachers also surpassed 2,000 last year, union data shows.
There are currently about 800 vacant jobs being advertised in Victorian schools.
Adding to the problem, a recent Australian Education Union (AEU) survey of nearly 6,000 public school staff found 39 per cent of early career educators planned to ditch the profession over the next decade.
The federal government predicts there will be shortages of more than 4,000 high school teachers in public schools next year.
Mr Clare said some 2,000 overseas educators were granted visas to teach in Australia during January, but stressed international recruitment would not be a permanent fix.
“There’s more that we have to do, to fix the course at uni, make sure that teachers are given the practical skills they need to be ready to teach from day one, fix the practical part of studying teaching,” he said.