The teaching profession is already plagued by staffing shortages and staffing problems, both in North America and elsewhere in the world. A new study in Oceania reveals that in this region of the world, faculty are so far removed from their school perimeter that many of these neighborhoods are becoming too expensive, even for teachers who are at the top of the class. .
This research was recently published in Australian educational researcheranalyzed quarterly property sales and rental housing reports in NSW, and found that more than 90% of teachers in this region, or around 50,000 full-time employees, work in neighborhoods where it is impossible to find salaried housing.
The situation is particularly difficult for new teachers. And so there are 675 schools, or roughly 23,000 full-time teaching positions — where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment with a teacher’s salary cannot be afforded.
Housing is considered unacceptable if a person has to spend more than 30% of their income to pay rent or a mortgage – a situation also described as housing stress. People in this place may not have enough money to pay for food, clothing and other essential purchases.
But this issue of affordability is not just an issue for young educators. Even for those at the top of the pay scale, at about 70 schools evaluated, or the equivalent of 2,000 full-time jobs, it’s also impossible to buy a one-bedroom apartment.
“The study shows that last year a teacher new to the profession could comfortably afford one-bedroom accommodation nearly a decade ago,” said Professor Scott Eckott, author of the study, associated with the University of New South Wales.
“Basically, there is a growing gap between salaries and housing costs that normal salary increases cannot bridge, and this is pushing teachers further and further away from their workplace, or into direct work outside their profession.”
“This problem is not limited to teachers, but extends to all essential workers who are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing within a reasonable distance from their place of work,” he added.
And to buy a house, there, too, is within the reach of teachers who have only one income, while the average prices, in certain areas of this Australian region, are more than 10 times the average annual salary. Sydney is particularly expensive, says the study.
A career in crisis
Also according to Professor Eckott, the problem of housing affordability has been partly ignored in the context of teacher shortages, due to other important issues, such as increased workloads, poor working conditions and stagnant salary.
“The shortage of teachers is complex, and there are several factors that explain why we are losing members of the profession, especially during the first five years,” the professor said. But housing affordability is one such cause, and the problem will only get worse if we don’t do something about it. »
According to Professor Eycott, the extraordinarily high cost of housing means that teachers will have to choose between spending a large part of their salary to live reasonably close to their school, or having to put up with long daily commutes.
“It’s not uncommon to hear about commutes that take more than an hour, which waste a lot of teachers’ time, not to mention hidden costs like fees and parking fees. We’ll explore this issue more in future work.”
Some projections suggest that NSW will need an additional 13,000 teachers over the next decade to meet demand. While most of the projected growth will occur in areas where work is not considered hard work, Professor Eckott believes this situation must change if teachers cannot live relatively close to their school.
“The school system is having enough trouble finding enough teachers like this,” says the researcher. “If they cannot find accommodation within a reasonable distance from their school, we can expect that this shortage will only increase.”
Helping teachers find housing
Also according to Professor Eycott, one aspect of the problem is that no ministry or department of the private sector is ultimately responsible for housing essential workers.
“The simple answer is to pay teachers better wages. But that may not be enough to solve the supply problem. Because one of the difficulties that teachers face in finding accommodation, is also the fact that the number of free accommodation is very limited.”
He added, “It is also important not to confine the teachers to the apartments designed for them, but to create a path for them to access the property.”
As a workaround, the researcher proposes an allowance to be paid first to teachers who work in the most expensive areas. But in the long term, it is more about taking into account the needs of these essential workers – of all essential workers – when it comes time to develop the infrastructure of the cities of the future.