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Like many new teachers, 27-year-old school teacher Sid Nurcombe is having difficulty securing a full time teaching job.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

In his search for work, Sid Nurcombe has been forced to cast a wide net - he is contemplating a move to South Korea.

The 27-year-old teachers' college graduate has been struggling for a year to win one of the highly coveted spots on a school boards' supply list. Openings are few and far between, and despite applying to two different boards near his parents' home in Shelburne, Ont., he remains unemployed. While younger teachers on the supply lists aspire to move on to full-time positions, retirees can linger there for years.

"For me, it's a huge impediment to getting in the system," said Mr. Nurcombe, who added that he has a "significant" debt and still lives with his parents.

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Young graduates need experience to land a full-time job, but supply-teaching opportunities often go to retirees padding their pensions with contribution-free income. Part of the modest income of the young teachers that do make it onto the supply list goes toward a pension plan that's facing an imbalance: For each beneficiary, there are only 1.5 paying members, and that ratio is expected to decline to 1.2 within the next decade.

"It's a real morale buster," said Laura Drexler, a 37-year-old supply teacher who lives in a one-bedroom student apartment in Waterloo, Ont. Despite the broad expertise of three university degrees and her willingness to drive between three school boards to find work, Ms. Drexler earns a quarter of what she could earn full-time.

"There aren't the jobs out there. There really aren't," she said.

Frank McIntyre, manager of human resources at the Ontario College of Teachers, said a number of changes designed to help alleviate a teacher shortage in the early 1990s, have been left unchecked for too long. "Now we're producing about 7,500 more new teachers than there are retirements every year," he said. "Nobody has put the brakes on."

And there's more at risk than just the livelihoods of aspiring teachers. Annie Kidder, a spokeswoman for the parent group People for Education, said there needs to be a balance between experience and fresh energy in the classroom.

"New teachers bring new ideas, perhaps more energy," Ms. Kidder said. "They may not be quite so worn."

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About the Authors
Education Reporter

Caroline Alphonso is an education reporter for The Globe and Mail. More

Education reporter

Kate Hammer started her journalism career in New York, chasing crime and breaking news for The New York Times. She came to the Globe and Mail in 2008 to do much of the same and ended up investigating allegations of animal cruelty and mismanagement at the Toronto Humane Society. More

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