Expand key worker status to teachers, says union

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AN education union has called on the government to expand essential key-worker status in an effort to tackle recruitment issues.

Around a quarter of Jersey’s teaching staff are over 50 and will need to be replaced in the next ten years as they retire, according to the National Education Union Jersey, but they are seeing issues in retaining staff owing to the high cost of living in the Island.

Joint district and branch secretary Adrian Moss said that alongside expanding essential key worker status, ‘some form of housing support needs to be provided, as well as a real-terms uplift in pay if the best teachers are to be attracted to the Island’ in order to fulfill proposals related to education outlined in the government’s recently released common population policy.

The policy states that ministers ‘must prioritise education, skills and lifelong learning to ensure that our citizens are equipped to do the jobs that local businesses are going to need, and grow our talent pipeline for the future’.

Mr Moss has written a letter to the Migration and Population Review Panel, tasked with looking at the the policy, to share the union’s concerns.

He said while they welcomed the ‘vital role’ given to education in the document, his union had ‘real concerns over the ability for the proposals to realise the need for an increase in teachers in the Island and to recognise the limited current pay and conditions for the teaching profession’.

‘Currently there are no proposals to aid housing issues for teachers moving to the Island and it is simply becoming unaffordable for teachers to get on the housing ladder, especially if they have families,’ he added.

Long hours and significant discrepancies between pay rises and the increasing cost of living over the past ten years, especially related to housing, had seen a ‘real-terms fall in pay’, Mr Moss said.

The UK was the Island’s main source of teachers, which was facing its own ‘huge problem’ in recruiting suitable numbers to the profession, he said. ‘Jersey is becoming less and less attractive due to high living and housing costs in its recruitment of teachers and we are seeing a continual issue with the retention of staff on the Island.’

Mr Moss added: ‘Any new recruitment of teachers from off the Island would also need to be factored into the essential worker numbers and this is an important consideration with regards to the overall increase in the population growth numbers and the number of essential worker licences that are available.’

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