Lots of job opportunities in schools

Shortages of teachers, subs, EAs

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A shortage of workers is plaguing more than one field. Health care is the one we hear about most often, but recently, the talk has been about short-staffed schools.

CJ Schurter School in Slave Lake, for example, is in need of educational assistants (EAs) and substitute teachers. This was conveyed on social media recently by the school council, which apparently led to some misconceptions.

The school does need both EAs and substitute teachers Principal Marlee Adams confirmed last week. But not just anybody will do. It’s people with experience and/or training that are wanted, and are lacking.

As for qualified teachers, Adams says she doesn’t think there are any in Slave Lake who are out of work.

Kyle Nicholls, the High Prairie School Division communications person, calls the teacher shortage “unprecedented.” And nation-wide.

“HPSD continues to recruit throughout the year,” he says, and we are looking at new and innovative ways to attract candidates. One of these ways is to engage with them “early in the recruitment process,” which is not normally done.

As for the EA positions, Nicholls confirms there’s a similar shortage. Various efforts are underway to improve the situation, including a review of hours of work and opportunities for “growth and advancement.”

Otherwise, “we are working with Edmonton Public Schools to formalize training for our educational assistants,” he says. “This training will begin in February and will end in June.

Successful completion of the training will positively contribute to placement on the wage grid.”

The situation in Aspen View Schools is similar.

“Staffing for all positions, both teaching and support, has become increasingly challenging in recent years,” says Aspen View spokesperson Ross Hunter.

“When we post a position, we find we don’t get the volume and depth of candidates that we used to.”

Hunter says for teaching positions, there’s a ‘trickle-down effect.’

“We have difficulty attracting candidates for full-time teaching positions,” he says, “so schools often make do by bringing back recently retired teachers on temporary contracts. These are people who would typically be on the substitute teacher list, so when other teachers are absent, there are fewer on the list to draw from.”

As for EAs, Aspen View isn’t getting the number of candidates that it used to, Hunter says, adding it is “particularly an issue in smaller communities with a smaller overall workforce.”

As you might expect, Northland School Division is facing the same challenges.

“Our experience is similar,” says spokesperson Curtis Walty. “We are looking to fill teaching positions as we speak. Finding substitute teachers is always a challenge as well.”

Northland operates schools in communities spread all over northern Alberta, including two in Wabasca and one each in Sandy Lake, Calling Lake, East Prairie, Peavine, Gift Lake and Grouard.

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One thought on “Lots of job opportunities in schools

  1. Until school divisions start paying substitutes on a salary grid, I expect that this problem will continue. Paying a flat rate that’s equivalent to a level 4 teacher with no experience is not appropriate pay for a teacher with 1 or more years of experience or at a level 5 or 6. And the pay for EAs is even worse. Conditions in schools can be challenging at the best of times. To expect people to work for low wages in a position replacing a full time teacher or in coordination with a teacher is the reason why there is such a shortage.

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