Falling salaries to worsen male teacher drought

A 20-year decline in high school teacher salaries is stopping men from entering and staying in the teaching profession, according to a recent book by Australian Catholic University economics lecturer, Dr Anthony Stokes.

Titled The Influence of Wages and Nonwage Amenities on the Labour Market for High School Teachers in New South Wales and published by Greenacre Educational Publications, the book studies the effect of changes in wages and working conditions on the high school teacher labour market in NSW.

Dr Stokes found that the decline of the relative wage for high school teachers between 1983 and 2003 is having the greatest impact on the number of men entering and staying in the profession.

As the relative earnings of male teachers, compared to male average weekly earnings, declined 20% in the period so did the quantity of male teachers in NSW high schools. During the same period there was an increase in the proportion and quantity of female high school teachers in NSW despite a small decline (5.9%) in relative earnings, compared to female average weekly earnings.

The study also showed that more male teachers (54.4%) seek and earn additional sources of income compared to female teachers (34.5%), reflecting their concern about relatively lower wages. And, while both male and female teachers had similar negative attitudes towards the level of teachers' salaries, 56.7% of males tended to find them unsatisfactory or poor compared to only 48.2% of female teachers.

Dr Stokes' study did find, however, that a salary increase, in relative terms, of 10% would encourage sufficient university students to become teachers to overcome any likely shortfall in the future. Dr Stokes concluded that the proportion of males working as high school teachers declined once their average weekly earnings fell below 110% of average weekly earnings for all males.

Commenting on his research, Dr Stokes said, "The difficulties in encouraging more people to become teachers are widely acknowledged but, as this research shows, men in particular need to be persuaded that teaching is a valuable and rewarding vocation. Unless teaching salaries keep up with other sectors, more and more people will be put off and the profession will continue to struggle."

ACU National research shows falling teaching salaries in NSW will mean fewer male teachers (Australian Catholic University 23/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
ACU National
Greenacre Educational Publications
Dr Anthony Stokes - Thesis: The influence of wages and nonwage amenities on the labour market for high school teachers in New South Wales (University of Wollongong)

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24 Feb 2006