19 Dec 2016

Teacher shortage hits Auckland early childhood centres

10:27 am on 19 December 2016

Auckland's teacher shortage has spread to the early childhood sector and centre owners say they are struggling to find enough qualified teachers.

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Early childhood centre owners are struggling to recruit teachers. Photo: 123rf

The centre owners say they're running into the same problem as the schools; high house prices and the city's traffic woes are making it increasingly difficult to hire teachers.

Early Childhood Council (ECC) president Theresa Dodd said the number of applicants for jobs in Auckland had dropped in the past couple of years, but especially in the past six months.

"We're all noticing a significant change. It's got to the point now where we're unsure whether or not if we're advertising if we're going to receive any applicants at all but often certainly not those really experienced and well-qualified staff that we're looking for for our services."

Ms Dodd said she had been unable to enrol children because of the shortage.

"I personally can account for the fact that I've turned away some enrolments because I haven't been able to find the staff, or the staff that I want, to fill the positions at my centre, and we're definitely receiving feedback from the wider membership of the ECC about that issue as well."

Ms Dodd said services were spending a lot of time and money trying to hire enough staff.

Best Start Education and Care Centres had 250 centres around the country and deputy chief executive Fiona Hughes said filling vacancies at the 70 centres in Auckland was challenging.

"A lot of that is we think to do with the cost of living in Auckland," she said.

"We're experiencing many teachers who are actually seeking transfers to other parts of the country because they can afford a home there."

Ms Hughes said Auckland's teacher shortage could get worse without government intervention because the city was growing but it appeared that too few people were training to be teachers.

"Auckland's growth is phenomenal and if you look at the areas where there's new housing and developments you've got to ask where the teachers are going to come from for schools and early childhood."

Mira Mautner owned three centres, two in Auckland and one in Hamilton, and said it was a lot harder to find staff in Auckland than in Hamilton.

"We've struggled all year in both of my centres in Auckland to attract quality staff," she said.

"Certainly the number of people applying for the jobs when we've put a job ad out has dropped rapidly.

"A couple of years ago I might have got 30 applicants with maybe seven or eight good quality teachers coming through. My last job ad I think we got seven applicants and it's just so hard to pick something sensible out of that sometimes."

Ms Mautner said she had had a job ad almost all year for her Māngere centre and the time and stress involved with trying to find staff was hard on her managers.

She was currently trying to hire a teacher from the Philippines.

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