Skills Commission report highlights extent of teacher shortage, state’s education crisis

Tasmania has a chronic shortage of teachers and professional support staff in schools, while applications for vacant teaching positions have dramatically dropped, according to a damning new government report.

The 2022 Skills Priority List Key Findings Report, released this week, showed “there has been a sharp decline” in applicants for Education Professionals, including Early Childhood Teachers, Primary School Teachers, and Secondary School Teachers.

The number of suitable applicants per vacancy for Education Professionals more than halved for the 2022 Skills Priority List research period, compared with the same period the year prior.

It also found there is a shortage across most educator positions in Tasmania – such as teachers, school psychologists and speech pathologists – while there is a “moderate or strong” future demand for educators in all workplace positions.

The report follows results from a 2021 Australian Education Union Tasmania survey of principals which found a worsening teacher shortage was denying Tasmanian students the full education they are entitled to.

In one instance, a Tasmanian Primary School was forced to collapse five classes on the same day due to staffing challenges, while three full-time teaching vacancies at a separate school remained unfilled across one school Term.

AEU Tasmania President David Genford said the new Skills Commission data underlined the untenable working conditions in Tasmania’s public schools and colleges.

“Tasmanian teachers are leaving the profession in record numbers and stress leave claims have now peaked at an all-time high,” he said.

“Our educators are burning out, and the need for education reform has gone on far too long.

“We should be doing all we can to attract and incentivise educators into, what should be, an exciting teaching career. But due to the Government’s failure to fix these glaring issues, the exact opposite is happening, and teachers are walking away.”

Mr Genford said student learning would continue suffering until real government action was taken to address the state’s education shortfalls.

“Educators have tabled Lifting Learning solutions to the Government which could immediately ease the dire conditions our students are learning in, and our school staff are working through,” he said.

“But it seems the Government is happy to sit by and watch an education crisis unfolding in front of it. Now is the time for the Premier to fulfill his promise to lead the nation in education.

“AEU members will not tire in their pursuit for a better working environment where teachers don’t feel they have to leave the profession to be relieved of stress.

“Public education in Tasmania needs serious reform and if this state government cared about future student learning conditions, it would come to the negotiation table with real workload solutions.”