Primary and secondary education degrees remain the most popular form of third level study for Leaving Cert students in Ireland. Reasonable hours, a guaranteed pension, extended holidays and paid leave make a career in teaching desirable.
Today it was announced that the Department of Education is looking to retrain primary school teachers to teach secondary level. A shortage of teachers in areas like European languages, chemistry, and physics means future students will be impacted unless the Government implements a training programme to retrain current primary school teachers.
One issue often overlooked by Government and student bodies in the area of temporary contracts. 35% of the total number of students who graduated with a teaching degree in 2016 are employed on temporary, one-year contracts, while a further 14% are employed on a part-time basis in Ireland. Only 7% of those who graduated with degrees in education in 2016 were employed in permanent teaching in Ireland at the time of the report, which was compiled in 2017.
Non-permanent teaching positions are at risk of an uncertain salary which creates a catch 22 situation for young students. Although temporary teachers are given the same entitlements as permanent staff, their contract lasts a year.
In 2015, only two-thirds of absences were actually covered by substitutes - which is made up of a large pool of graduate teachers. However, teacher education providers – such as colleges, universities and the private provider Hibernia – have full autonomy to decide on the enrollment of trainees.
According to a report by the Higher Education Authority, 85% of education degree holders are likely to find work after graduating making it the most employable degree, 32% of education students are earning between €29,000 - €32,999.
From the 2016 figures, 40% of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates earn less than €25,000 and a whopping 15% of Arts and Humanities students earn less than €13,000.