Jason Clare, Australia’s Minister for Education and Youth, recently said visa applications for overseas teachers would be prioritized to help ease the country’s teacher shortage.
On August 12, Clare hosted a roundtable with provincial ministers of education, teacher representatives, school principals and unions on how to address the national teacher shortage. He raised the idea at a press conference in Canberra after the meeting. “One of the things we need to do is prioritize visas for foreign teachers who want to come and work here,” Clare said.
He said states and territories should work with overseas teachers who aspire to come to Australia to work to ensure that overseas teachers meet state and territory standards, are certified and registered in Australia, and make sure they get visas when they want to come to Australia. .
Clare said Home Secretary Clare O’Neil had agreed to prioritize teacher visas abroad.
On attracting and retaining overseas teachers, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she would like to see further plans, including fast-track citizenship for overseas teachers wishing to move to Australia.
“One of the concerns and challenges with bringing in foreign teachers is the long wait for visas. This makes potential foreign teachers reluctant to come [to Australia]”Mitchell said.
“I would like to know what are the opportunities for highly qualified people to be accelerated to work in high demand fields such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).”
In July, Mitchell wrote to Andrew Giles, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, calling on the federal government to provide fast-track citizenship pathways targeting foreign teachers.
Mitchell said there were around 200 teachers currently working in NSW schools on temporary visas, and she was pushing for those overseas teachers to apply for Australian citizenship after two years in state schools.
In addition to the decision to prioritize overseas teacher visa applications, the August 12 roundtable also discussed national strategies that could be implemented in three priority areas, namely, how to further encourage people to become teachers, train students now in teacher education courses to prepare for employment more quickly and put in place strategies to retain excellent teachers.
As a way to keep more outstanding teachers in the classroom, NSW had taken the lead. On August 11, NSW announced the introduction of new high-paying positions for outstanding teachers.
Newly employed teachers in New South Wales are currently starting their careers with an annual salary of A$73,737 ($50,810), making them better paid than graduates in many other career fields. A teacher can be paid up to A$117,060 ($80,700) if earned with the tag of “good teacher” or “lead teacher”. It can even go up to A$126,528 ($87,200) if they take on the additional duties of an assistant manager.
Education Minister Mitchell said a better system for rewarding and retaining good teachers could help attract more people to teaching careers.
Australian teacher shares her thoughts
As more Hong Kongers choose to leave the city after social unrest, Australia is one of the most popular countries for them.
Ms. Chan (pseudonym), a Hong Konger who is now working in Australia as a teacher, told The Epoch Times that this is very good news for teachers from Hong Kong who intend to emigrate to Australia. She says she knows a few teachers who prefer to come to Australia rather than the UK. But that was before the Australian government launched this program. She’s also pretty sure that if the program was available at the time, they probably would have applied already.
Regarding the qualification of teachers in Hong Kong, Ms. Chan said as long as the candidate holds a qualified degree in education. The authorities will then assess these university degrees. However, they may need to pass an English proficiency test if the qualifications were obtained in a non-English speaking country.
According to the Australian requirement, overseas-trained teachers from Hong Kong must hold recognized qualifications and may need to pass an approved English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).
For Ms. Chan, she said the biggest challenge for teachers in Hong Kong is the culture and the difference in expectations between Asian and Western students/parents.
Regarding the concerns and challenges of bringing in foreign teachers, the long wait for visas, Ms. Chan thinks teachers (or people) in Hong Kong want to leave for a different reason. They want to leave for good, perhaps to provide a better future for their family. So they can wait if the opportunity arises.