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In wake of substitute teacher shortage, Manitoba school divisions are hiring uncertified teachers

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Some rural Manitoba school divisions are advertising substitute teaching positions where a teaching degree or certificate is not required in an attempt to address a shortfall.

Sunrise School Division and Brandon School Division are two divisions that have posted jobs online looking for substitute teachers. In Sunrise’s posting, the division states they are “Looking for people with a variety of skills and backgrounds who are willing to work with students.”

Later in the application, it states that “a teaching degree is not required to pursue this opportunity.” A current criminal record check and child abuse registry check are required for the positions.

Cathy Tymko, superintendent of the division, says they look for fully certified teachers, but notes there is a shortage.

“Our top priority is finding certified teachers for classrooms. Our second priority is looking for people who have a limited teaching permit. And then in the absence of those first two, we are looking for folks that have either combinations of experience, or potentially a degree in an area that might help them be able to lend to a classroom,” she said. “We call them non-certified teachers, and they are coming in as a substitute to deliver planned lessons or a designed teaching that a certified teacher has prepared for them.”

Limited teaching permits are typically given to education students in the final year of their degree to teach when they aren’t in class.

Tymko said the process has always been in place in the division, and they want to hire certified teachers first as substitutes before going to limited teaching permits and non-certified teachers. She said situations such as retirements and changes in the workforce following the pandemic have lead to shortages on the division’s substitute teacher list.

The Brandon School Division has also seen a shortage of substitute teachers.

Superintendent Mathew Gustafson said in November 2021, the division had 161 teachers. It saw an increase in 2022 to 211, but he said there is still a shortage.

“It's probably the same trend that other industries and occupations and professions are seeing, that there is a shortage of labour in different industries, and education isn't exempt from that,” he said.

For the Brandon School Division, applications are open for uncertified substitute teachers, with the division saying it will apply for a limited teaching certificate on behalf of the applicant if they don’t have one.

“We've worked with different community organizations to try to present the number of opportunities that might exist for people moving into the community,” Gustafson said. “We've looked at trying to find different ways of getting our information out around postings. And then trying to increase the number of limited teaching permits.”

Gustafson said ideally, they want to hire certified teachers as substitutes before going to people with limited permits or uncertified teachers.

Wayne Ewasko, Manitoba’s minister of education, said the province has been working closely with education partners to address the shortage.

He added he applauds the school divisions for thinking “outside the box.”

“We’re working with (school boards) on different things on what we can do to not only retain but also to recruit (teachers). I know also that we’ve been working with other departments in government to then talk about our post-secondary partners on how we can get more educators into the system and more seats,” Ewasko said in an interview with CTV News Winnipeg.

The minister noted they are also working to recognize the qualifications of people from other countries or provinces to see if they can also get into the school system.

-With files from CTV News’ Devon McKendrick.

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