|Education students Sarah Hammond and Dan Braico talk with Renee Closs, of the Northwest Territory's Sahtu Divisional Education Council, during the annual Faculty of Education Teacher Job Fair Wednesday at the University of Lethbridge. Herald photo by Ian Martens|
The province faces a fiscal crunch and many soon-to-graduate Faculty of Education students at the University of Lethbridge are worried about finding a job.
Sara Grobman is set to graduate this spring and she hopes to find a teaching position for the fall.
"I'm not really being picky at the moment. I'll take full-time, part-time or subbing opportunities," Grobman said at the Teacher Job Fair at the U of L Wednesday. "It seems to be there's minimal jobs and it's super competitive at the moment - so how do you make yourself stand out in a two-minute conversation with someone when they're probably going to talk to 100 people today?"
One of the best calling cards in securing a position may well be a degree from the U of L. Darryl Seguin, associate superintendent with the Livingstone Range school division, graduated from the U of L 20 years ago and has since worked in schools all around the province.
"I find that the teachers that have been trained at the U of L have a great understanding of what it takes to be a successful teacher in the classroom. I think there's an advantage for the students that graduate from the U of L education programs," Seguin said.
Kirsty and Brady Flesch, identical twins, are also set to graduate in April and have their eyes on finding a teaching position.
"I've been around to a couple of booths here just getting familiar with what's available. It's a really nice way to meet future employers or decide what school boards I would like to focus on applying to," Kirsty said.
She's hoping to find employment in and around Calgary, her home, or in the Lethbridge area. But she admits to having some worries about getting a job.
"I hear that there are many teachers who are retiring now and that there are a few positions becoming available but it is quite competitive and so that's always a worry. You have to be open to taking whatever you can get and just being willing to teach anything," Kirsty said. "This job fair is an excellent opportunity for people in education. It's great."
"There are so many graduates and especially coming from the U of L everyone's pretty qualified and has these references so it's pretty competitive. I'm hopeful, so we'll see," Brady said.
Karen Smith, principal of Standard, Hussar and Rockyford schools in the Golden Hills school division, said her school division has been coming to the U of L teacher job fair for years. She said the division is likely looking to hire 40 new teachers for the fall, vacancies largely created by retirements. Finding new teachers hasn't been a problem.
"As a school division we go to quite a few of these career fairs which gets our name out there and promotes our school division. We have quite a few applicants usually on all our positions," she said.
Now in its 14th year, the annual U of L Faculty of Education's Teacher Job Fair seeks to match graduating teachers with school boards needing to hire. This year the number of school boards to attend was down to 27 from 29 last year. In previous years as many as 35 school boards participated in the fair.
"We are supported by southern Alberta very strongly," said Nicole Spence, job fair co-ordinator. "It allows our students to figure out what school boards are looking for. It allows the school boards to meet our students."
In addition to Alberta school divisions, a few from Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and some international educational institutions also had booths.
"I've talked to a couple boards and they're anticipating that they're hiring next year but if things change in the province with how much money they're going to get of course that's going to change the number of (hires)," Spence said.
About 200 students will graduate this year.