The housing crisis will trigger a new brain drain of young teachers, the INTO leader warns

The property crisis will trigger a new exodus of young teachers from Ireland, warned today.

Rish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) President Joe McKeown said no recently qualified teacher could now reasonably expect to be able to afford a house in most parts of Ireland.

For many, even a rental apartment is out of reach, he said.

“If we don’t address this critical issue, we will see another exodus of our young and talented teachers,” he said.

The INTO president said young teachers would seek places where “their reasonable aspirations are more likely to be realized”.

“Then who will teach our children?” he asked in his opening remarks at the union’s annual conference.

“Having a roof over your head is a fundamental right for all citizens of a republic. Having a roof over your head should not be an impossible dream for the vast majority of citizens,” he said.

It is not uncommon for newly qualified Irish teachers to go abroad to work, often in search of adventure.

But emigration rates reached very high levels in the post-bank crash austerity years, when lower pay grades were introduced for newly qualified teachers.

The great exodus, much of it to the Middle East, where an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Irish teachers worked, contributed to a serious shortage of staff at home.

But with two-tier pay scales a thing of the past, the INTO chair warns that the housing crisis poses a new threat to teacher supply.

His warning comes as schools face ongoing staffing problems due to Covid-induced teacher absences.

The arrival of thousands of Ukrainian students also creates a demand for more teachers. While Secretary of Education Norma Foley has promised the necessary resources will be made available, schools are asking, “Where do we find the teachers?”

Mr McKeown warned of the potential impact of the housing crisis on school staffing, speaking of the serious erosion of living standards being caused by spiraling inflation.

He said it “needs to be urgently addressed by the government if industrial harmony is to continue”.

But he added that wage increases alone would not solve the housing shortage.

The Irish Trades Union Congress (ICTU) has triggered a review clause in the civil service collective agreement, Building Momentum, to address the inflation problem.

In this context, the INTO conference will set out what it expects from its members in the context of these negotiations.

Mr McKeown said national wage agreements have provided much-needed stability and security in the most difficult of times.

He said in the bad times, “We endured massive pay cuts and drastic cuts in public services” as the country emerged from recession, wage demands were modest as “we tried to do our part in laying secure foundations for sustainable growth “.

Mr McKeown also addressed the legacy of Covid, saying the teachers’ experience and expertise showed them the impact on children’s educational development would be felt for years to come.

He said it would require sustained financial support, additional staff and a recalibration of expectations.

He said the damaging parenting effects of Covid continued this year and were unlikely to end next year.

He said Covid support, including lessons used to help students catch up on lost learning, providing panels with substitute teachers and administrative support, would also be needed next year. The housing crisis will trigger a new brain drain of young teachers, the INTO leader warns

Fry Electronics Team

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