School boards scramble to find French teachers amid surging demand
Published Sunday, March 11, 2018 10:00PM EDT
School boards across the country are doing whatever they can to entice French-speaking teachers amid soaring nationwide demand for French immersion classes.
“It’s really exciting,” Larissa Girvan, who will soon graduate from McGill University’s education program, told CTV News from a recent job fair. “I mean, just to hear that they’re ready to fast-track me if I contact them right away and that there are 10 positions ready to go.”
French-speaking teachers like Girvan have their pick when it comes to landing teaching positions -- a far cry from the fate of other teachers who often spend months, if not years, switching from school to school before they can secure a permanent job.
The number of students enrolled in French immersion programs has jumped by 65,000 in five years, creating a shortage of qualified instructors and long waitlists for students. In places like Salmon Arm, B.C., some parents even camp out for days in order to get their children a spot in a French immersion program.
“I think it says that parents understand the opportunity to give their children the ability to converse and speak and think and (interact) and engage with different cultures and different languages,” Fiona Benson, McGill University’s associate dean of academic programs, said.
With soaring demand for French classes, school boards across the country are now desperately looking for teachers. Back in September, for example, the Halifax Regional School Board alone was scrambling to fill 33 vacancies. To help address the growing demand, universities say they are now encouraging education students to become proficient in French.
“Just the lack of candidates,” Vicky Crandall, the human resources manager of southern Ontario’s Upper Grand District School Board, explained. “That’s what makes it so challenging with the French skills and the French qualifications.”
Recruiters, who are often trying to entice the same candidates, have also been forced to get creative to meet the demand for French teachers.
“We’re offering a moving allowance for people out of the province, up to $1,500,” Cheryl Douglas, the manager of recruitment and retention at the Vancouver School Board, said. “And we’re also offering temporary accommodation.”
In southern Ontario, Crandall is selling the scenery.
“Our region is beautiful,” she said. “So we really sell the features that we have to offer.”
With a report from CTV’s Vanessa Lee