The good news for graduating education students: there are lots of teaching jobs.
The bad news: they may not be around here.
Saskatoon, lots of jobs there. Same with the Yukon.
And schools in China and Egypt offer the incentive of teaching the Manitoba curriculum, having familiar principals, and letting Manitoba teachers rack up seniority just as if they were teaching in Manitoba schools.
The annual Education Exposition job fair at the University of Manitoba was missing some regulars Monday.
Winnipeg School Division held its own recruiting session last month. There was no sign of Frontier or Brandon school divisions, no Edmonton or Calgary, and no Ontario employers -- Toronto, the Durham Region megaburbs, and northwestern Ontario came for many years. This year, only Saskatoon and the Yukon came looking for 150 and 100 teachers, respectively.
Manitoba divisions aren't offering contracts yet, graduating students said. Divisions don't know how many teachers will retire, and with tough budget decisions for trustees, don't know how many openings they'll be allowed to fill.
"We're not going to add positions. You'll be lucky to hold what you have, based on the (provincial) funding announcement," said Tim Mendel, superintendent of Altona-based Border Land School Division.
"It's sounding like they're hiring less teachers this year," said U of M education student Heidi Dirks, a history and geography specialist who went to Fort Richmond Collegiate. "It's an unknown -- school divisions don't know how many teachers they'll need."
Stacey Matsumoto, an education student and graduate of River East Collegiate, said Seven Oaks S.D. is looking for 30 to 60 teachers. It's the only city division with growing enrolment.
"In the grand scheme of things, with U of M, U of W (Winnipeg) and Brandon University, that's not a lot," said Matsumoto, an early years specialist.
"The job market is tougher now. I'm ready and willing to go anywhere," said Sanford Collegiate grad and prospective teacher Jaelynn Tyschinski, another early years specialist.
Errol Harris, a consultant and former principal at both Murdoch MacKay Collegiate and Transcona Collegiate, was looking for about three dozen teachers for schools in Cairo, Beijing, and Guangzhou, China.
They're part of a growing group of schools -- including ones in Turkey, Ghana and Thailand -- developed over the last decade, who use Manitoba-certified teachers to teach the Manitoba curriculum.
The salaries are lower, but so are the costs of living, said Harris. He has retired Sturgeon Creek Collegiate principal Rick Strongman running the school in Cairo, while last year's Sisler High vice-principal, Darrell Stewart, is principal in Guangzhou.
"Our primary groups are young people and recent retirees," said Harris. "Minimum two-bedroom apartments are provided at no cost. Each year of experience counts on the salary grid here in Manitoba."
Superintendent Kelly Barkman of Morris-based Red River Valley S.D. said the financial downturn has prompted older teachers to delay retirement to replenish their savings.
"We had far fewer retiring last year. People are hanging onto their jobs longer," he said.