22 Sep 2017

Red tape forces out UK teacher: 'My dream has died'

7:18 pm on 22 September 2017

International teachers moving to Auckland to help fill the city's teaching shortage say lengthy and expensive red tape is forcing them to head home again.

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Foreign teachers say it is too hard to fill jobs in Auckland, despite a teacher shortage. Photo: 123rf

British teacher Andrew Yiallouros began his teaching career nine years ago and came to New Zealand with his wife at the start of this year in search of a place to settle down and raise a family.

But he said the process of becoming a registered teacher here was "beyond a joke".

Having originally arrived on a tourist visa, Mr Yiallouros fell in love with the country and started the process of getting his teaching papers.

That process took several months and it cost hundreds of dollars to have his qualifications and teaching experience verified.

He said there could easily be a system set up to reference what value UK degrees had in New Zealand.

"Why does it have to take two to three months for that process to happen, what are they doing?"

With the help of a recruiter, Mr Yiallouros eventually got a job at an Auckland intermediate school but then discovered he was going to be paid $32,000 a year - an untrained and unqualified salary rate.

He was told it could take up to a year to get a full teacher's rate.

"Just the kind of principle of that ... I've got two people reliant on this money, I should definitely be being paid more than that - everyone would agree with that, I'm entitled to more, but in the meantime you've got to have less."

Already in debt and struggling, Mr Yiallouros said that was the final straw. He and his wife will be leaving New Zealand at the end of the year.

"I am so gutted. I have spent the last six months, you know, investing in being here and making a life here and doing everything that I can to make this work, and yeah, my dream has died."

Martin Strang, the manager of education recruitment company Oasis Education, agreed with Mr Yiallouros' comments.

He said the qualification process was expensive and time-consuming and put off some overseas teachers looking to move to Auckland.

Some teachers that he had worked with had really struggled with the process of getting registered in New Zealand, he said.

"We give them all the information and all the instructions in advance and these teachers are finding it very, very difficult and they're in STEM subject areas... absolute shortage areas.

"Even with us walking them through the various procedures, it's been well over six months."

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said while international teaching qualifications did need to be verified, the process should be easier.

"We need to look at what the processes really are, and is it that we've got too many people taking too long around verifying information, and I suspect that that's what's happening."

Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said it accepted the process for overseas teachers wanting to live and work in New Zealand had caused frustration for some teachers and schools and needs improving.

She said the ministry had been working with Immigration New Zealand and education agencies to cut the time and costs.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye this year said Auckland was about 300 teachers short, and boosted a teacher supply fund to nearly $20 over two years.

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