New incentives are needed to encourage teachers to return to work in Ireland including housing in key pressure zones, a union leader has warned.
Measures such as permanent posts, a reduction in red tape and shortening the time to qualify as a teacher were required, the general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, Kieran Christie, said.
His comments come after the three main teaching unions took part in a consultative forum on Wednesday where the issue of teacher shortages was discussed.
Following the meeting, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation called for the establishment of an emergency teacher supply taskforce.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Christie said the process to qualify as a teacher in Ireland was too slow and “you could become a rocket scientist faster”.
Accommodation for key workers such as doctors, nurses and teachers should also be considered, he said, saying it was “unsustainable” to expect key workers to travel up to 70 miles to work. “Something will have to give”.
Mr Christie expressed disappointment at the “stale initiatives” proposed by Department of Education officials at a meeting this week. He said there was a “lack of ambition” from the Minister.
He said nine out of 10 principals were reporting recruitment problems and some schools were dropping subjects as a result. He questioned why teachers were working overseas and how they could be “lured” back to Ireland.
The unequal pay issue had been “somewhat” alleviated, he said, but permanent posts had to be available, nobody was going to come back to a part-time job. He said there also needed to be a root and branch rebuilding of the system for promotions within the system.
There was “an awful lot of red tape” for teachers to re-register with the Teachers Council, said Mr Christie. There were teachers from other countries who could make a real contribution, but they had to wait “months and months” to wade through the red tape.
The two-year Masters in Education programme should be reduced to one year, he said, as a two-year course was a "luxury" the country could not afford. On top of a four-year undergraduate degree it meant six years in education which was almost as much it took for a doctor to qualify.
“This needs to be dealt with at Government level. It needs a multi faceted approach.”