Untapped workforce to help secure the future of teaching

27 OCTOBER 2022

Untapped workforce to help secure the future of teaching

The key to saving the teaching industry could lie in mid-career changers, according to a Charles Sturt academic. The industry has faced challenges, but he explains why now is the time to show appreciation for teachers.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a new-found appreciation for the daily struggles of teachers as parents and carers ‘walked a mile in their shoes’ during extended periods of home schooling.

For World Teachers’ Day in Australia on Friday 28 October, a Charles Sturt University education leader is reflecting on the role teachers play in the community while highlighting how the University is contributing to growing and diversifying the industry.

By Head of the Charles Sturt School of Education Associate Professor Will Letts.

World Teachers’ Day seems an opportune time to reflect on both the challenges facing the profession and the myriad reasons it is great to be a teacher. It’s an occasion to remind ourselves why we should be grateful to teachers.

The teaching profession is facing challenges, as does every industry, and Charles Sturt University is not ignoring the pressures placed on teachers.

Teaching is one of the most impactful professions you can choose, and the University wants to be part of the solution to alleviate the pressures on the industry.

At times, the teaching profession suffers from a poor public profile. This was countered somewhat for that period of the pandemic when children and young people required home schooling, when a surge of new-found appreciation for teachers entered the public discourse.

Because of COVID-19, people were reminded of the important role teachers play as educators and influencers in the lives of children.

It also highlighted staffing shortages within the industry. The wave of teacher shortages crashed down upon the entire profession, from early childhood centres and services to secondary schools, adding additional challenges inflected by the pandemic.

Top all of this off with the recurring natural disasters affecting children, their families, their communities and schools and its clear why we should seize on any opportunity we can to celebrate teachers and the important and enabling work that they do.

Such profound challenges facing a profession and a workforce make the successes in teaching all the sweeter. Teachers are there for children and young people, they are facilitating learning.

Charles Sturt has a strong history of producing teaching graduates, dating back to the Wagga Wagga Teachers College in 1947, and the Bathurst Teachers College in 1951 which will be celebrated during an event on Tuesday 8 November.

People are still drawn to teaching for a fulfilling and rewarding career that really makes a difference. More career-changers than ever are pivoting to teacher education to prepare for careers as teachers.

The University is committed to continuing its already 75-year-long commitment to educating Australian teachers by implementing programs to provide pathways into teaching and being part of the solution to create a sustainable teaching workforce.

It was announced in December 2021 that Charles Sturt had up to 50 positions available in the Mid-Career Transition to Teaching Program. Applications exceeded expectations with 32 students as part of the first intake.

Previous jobs of the Mid-Career Transition to Teaching cohort include a wool buyer, data analyst, medical researcher, carpenter and boat builder, research scientist, manager of large archives of airborne and satellite imagery, graphic designer, dietician, aircraft maintenance engineer, building services engineer, statistician, IT specialist, laboratory technician, carpenter, counsellor and lawyer.

Infusion of a diverse group of new teachers is exciting for the profession and bodes well for students. Imagine what they will contribute to schools.

The University was also awarded $500,000 for the Collaborative Teacher’s Aide Program to help teacher’s aides and other school paraprofessionals re-train as accredited teachers. The program leverages their experience and deep knowledge of schools to help them transition into teaching careers.

More than 130 teacher’s aides have enrolled in the program since the start of 2022. The program is on track for 300 enrolments by the end of the year.

These programs exemplify the active role the University is taking to recruit more teachers and develop pathways that encourage diversity in the profession, which in turn is a great outcome for students.

Alone the programs will not solve the issues that the teaching profession is facing but they demonstrate agile thinking adopted within the broader industry to be part of the solution.

The response so far to both these programs indicates there is a keen but untapped workforce ready to boost teaching numbers.

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Associate Professor Will Letts, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on 0429 217 026 or news@csu.edu.au

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