Career-changers to help fill NSW's teacher shortage
09 Dec 2022
Jamie Sutanto is changing career to become a teacher as part of a program beginning in New South Wales.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
Jamie Sutanto's already made one huge career change in his life, shifting from mechatronic engineering to work in a CGI studio after seven years.
"It kind of started the pathway to go, 'Maybe I can do animation, even though I've never done it before'," he said.
"I did so many roles in that company … it showed me that you can do more than you think you can do."
After spending another seven years there, he began thinking about what's next.
"What I really realised is that we all have a lot of possibility," he said.
"I think that kids today need to know that. Even if they don't think they can do certain things, they actually can do [them].
"They just need to put the effort [in] and actually try."
Mr Sutanto is a career-changer, and one of eight aspiring teachers being placed in Western Sydney schools next year.
It's part of a program by not-for-profit Teach For Australia (TFA) and the Catholic education dioceses of Parramatta and Bathurst.
Jamie Sutanto says his career path shows people can chase new goals.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
Those in the program undertake a Master of Teaching, while working hands-on in a school.
Chemical engineering graduate, Yuqing Li, and desktop publisher, Josh Kelly, are also keen to get into the classroom from next year.
"I did some tutoring while I was studying at university," Ms Li said.
"What I really enjoyed was being able to interact with my students and help them achieve their potential and I thought I should be doing this for the rest of my life."
It's a model that's been used in other states and territories, but this is the first time in New South Wales.
Yuqing Li (right) is also looking forward to working in the classroom next year.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
The state government recently announced up to 50 future TFA recruits will be working at government schools from 2024.
These future placements have been criticised by the NSW Teachers Federation, which says such schemes will not address the state's teacher shortage.
The teachers' union and the state government have been locked in an ongoing dispute over wages and working conditions as the parties negotiate a new enterprise agreement.
"The New South Wales government needs to stop the experiments and address the real factors causing teacher shortages: unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries," union president Angelo Gavrielatos said.
"This is the only approach that will guarantee we can recruit and retain the teachers we need."
The Independent Education Union of Australia's NSW and ACT branch secretary, Mark Northam, said all young teachers should have the same wrap around support being offered as part of the TFA program.
He said the union would discuss with TFA how such measures could work on an industrial scale.
"The arrangements that Teach For Australia put in place provide a compelling argument as to why all initial teacher education students should have the same levels of support," Mr Northam said.
Delany College principal Shauna Nash said she welcomed the aspiring teachers, especially after she herself had to step into the classroom due to the teacher shortage.
"We're looking for new ways, obviously, to get teachers into the teaching profession," she said.
"You learn on the job, and it's a really good way for people who are well-qualified in their area to actually have an opportunity to come and work alongside teachers and really learn what the work is."
TFA chief executive Melodie Potts Rosevear said she felt career-changers could give "real world flavour" to the classroom.
"At a time when all schools are working so hard to secure the workforce their students need, we're glad for this opportunity to bring additional people to classrooms in New South Wales, to work alongside the dedicated teachers and principals already serving students," she said.
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