Teacher shortages across the ELICOS sector in Australia are placing the recovery of the “decimated sector” at risk, English Australia has warned.
During the country’s border closures between 2019 and 2021, the sector lost 77% of its student numbers and 79% of the student week volume.
Some 75% of the ELICOS sector’s workforce has been impacted by the pandemic, the peak body has now reminded.
“Even though a wage support scheme was in place for most of 2020, 35% (1,663) of employees lost their jobs during this period,” English Australia CEO Brett Blacker said.
“Feedback from our member colleges is that rehiring these teachers is proving to be difficult with many having found alternative employment,” he added.
The organisation is appealing to the government ahead of the national Jobs and Skills Summit to implement three structural changes that English Australia says are crucial.
“Rehiring these teachers is proving to be difficult with many having found alternative employment”
Extending the durations of the 417 and 462 holiday visas will promote attractiveness from teachers from overseas, while the subsidisation of CELTA and TESOL qualifications will appeal to local students in Australia, the body said.
It is also working with teachers from member colleges to produce a video explaining why ELICOS teaching is a great career choice for both new and returning teachers.
English Australia has also said that the synchronisation of Commonwealth and State/Territory skills on demand lists for teachers of English language programs would be beneficial.
It has written to the premiers and heads of State and the minister for Education to urge them to add the field where it is currently not listed and “encourage active promotion of this skill”.
“It is not just the recovery of the ELICOS sector, but with 70% of ELICOS students moving into further academic study post their English course, the flow on effects will be felt in the higher education and vocational education sectors if not addressed,” Blacker continued.
“These proposed measures would be easy to implement and would have a significant impact in supporting the English language teaching sector’s recovery and boosting Australia’s economy,” noted Blacker.
“It is now critical that momentum is not lost and that government and the sector collaborate in the development of clear implementation plans to ensure these foundations are appropriately built on.”
The appeal from the Australian peak body for the English language sector comes at the same time as Canadian ELT is also facing a shortage of teachers.