Australia’s teaching shortage is reaching a crisis point.
In Queensland alone, almost 270 regional state teaching positions remain vacant at the end of term one this year.
In NSW, where more than 10,000 teachers quit in 2021, unreleased federal modelling indicates the state will be short-staffed by a whopping 1,700 teachers by 2025.
That’s a lotta classrooms without a teacher.
So what’s going on?
In an analysis for The Conversation, Rachel Wilson and Giuseppe Carabetta attribute Australia’s teaching shortage to both retention and problems with recruitment, with low pay (relative to other professions), heavy workloads and burnout fears deterring Gen Zs from considering a career in education.
And those that take the risk?
They’re dropping out in record numbers, with a staggering one in six early career teachers leaving the profession after just one year.
A further 40% of young teachers abandon their careers within five years.
It’s like the perfect storm.
A 17-year-old from NSW told us how they were struggling between becoming a high school science teacher or a mechanical engineer.
“I think that I would prefer to be a teacher, yet an engineer is a better paid and more challenging position,” they said.
“After research, the teacher’s salary looks alright but I’m worried that I will regret my decision when I’m older. University is such a big decision, it affects the rest of your life.”
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old female from Western Australia told us how she wants to be a teacher but is seriously concerned about the five-year dropout rate amongst early career teachers.
“It’s so hard to choose a job career when there are so many options. And how do I know if the job will be obsolete soon?” she said.
“For a while, I wanted to be a maths teacher but all of a sudden I’m hearing about how bad the Australian education system is, how new teachers quit after 5 years?”
“WHAT’S WITH THAT?!”
Meanwhile, a 22-year-old female from South Australia is a practising teacher worried about the teaching profession’s work-life balance and the industry’s high workload causing them to burnout.
“The two things I am worried about is getting sucked into full-time work for the next 45 years and forgetting to enjoy my life,” she said.
“(I’m also worried about) burning out within five years and having to find a new career when teaching is my dream career.”
So where to from here?
If reports that state schools could “run out of teachers in the next five years” and are anything to go by, we need to address the challenges causing teachers to leave the system in droves to improve its image to attract Australia’s youth.