The teaching profession in NSW is in "crisis" mode with widespread and growing staff shortages impacting both the workforce as well as student outcomes, the industry union says.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos was in Bega in southern NSW on Monday during week three of a regional tour speaking with delegates and supporters.
Representatives from numerous schools in the Bega Valley turned out in Littleton Gardens to hear Mr Gavrielatos describe "a perfect storm" of an ageing workforce, predicted explosion in student enrolments, and dropping numbers taking up the profession.
He repeated the alarming finding of an Education Department report claiming the state risks running out of teachers within five years if concerns were not addressed by government.
Mr Gavrielatos said there were more than 1000 permanent teacher vacancies already across the state - 116 in the Monaro and South Coast alone - and that the "crisis" was only going to get worse if nothing was done.
There were also concerns the teacher shortage meant more and more students were receiving lessons from a teacher working outside their area of expertise, leading to poorer outcomes for the children.
He said the state government was well aware of the issues as well, given the figures he quoted were from the government's own figures released to Parliament last month.
"The cause of the crisis is right there in the government's own briefings - uncompetitive salaries leading to unsustainable workloads," Mr Gavrielatos told ACM.
"And by outlining the cause therein lies the solution.
"But rather than acting on their own analysis, all we get is spin and gimmickry," he said.
"Enough is enough."
That refrain was repeated during his address to the delegates gathered in the centre of Bega, as well as to those around the state over the past few weeks.
While not specifically saying the word "strike", Mr Gavrielatos made a passionate plea to delegates to "not fall to their knees".
"Unless the government acts on their own advice, we're left with no option but to escalate our efforts," he said.
"What form that will take I'm not going to ventilate this morning."
However, he did point out the teachers' current enterprise bargaining agreement expires at the end of this year and that the Teachers Federation state executive would be meeting on November 27 to further discuss options.
In October, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell unveiled the $125million NSW Teacher Supply Strategy, designed to stave off the looming shortage.
She announced the strategy hinged on promoting 'the joy of teaching' and poaching teachers from overseas, while an incentive scheme would aim to attract teachers to regional and rural schools.
However, Mr Gavrielatos said a glossy brochure was not going to cut it.
"The government's own figures show an increase of 200,000 student enrolments over the next 20 years, requiring an additional 11,000 teachers in the next decade," he said.
"Where are we going to find 11,000 new teachers over the next 10 years? How are we going to find the more than 1000 needed right now?"
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