EDUCATION Minister Ian Wishart has accused Manitoba faculties of education of failing to prepare future teachers for the job market and not encouraging them to fill shortages in specialties.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/5/2018 (1253 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

EDUCATION Minister Ian Wishart has accused Manitoba faculties of education of failing to prepare future teachers for the job market and not encouraging them to fill shortages in specialties.

The shortage in teachers able to teach in the French language is so severe, not only is Manitoba looking to other provinces, but Wishart said he has asked France if there are teachers willing to come overseas.

Manitoba is struggling to find vocational and English as an additional language teachers, Wishart said during an estimates hearing Wednesday.

Wishart said provincial enrolment in French-language education is growing by 0.5 per cent a year, and growth in French immersion is increasing 4.6 per cent a year.

"I recently had a discussion with one of the diplomatic groups that was in (Manitoba) on trade from France, as to see what they might have in terms of teachers that would come here and help us with our issue of shortage of French and French immersion teachers. And there was some interest there," he said.

But the faculties of education — with the exception of Université de Saint-Boniface — are resisting the government’s call to actively direct students to meet Manitoba’s needs, Wishart said.

"You know, our ultimate goal is to train them here in Manitoba -- train teachers to meet those needs, and one of the things that I did actually very early on as a minister was bring in the deans from the various faculties of education in Manitoba and say, ‘What can you do to help me in regards to that?’" he said, according to the Hansard transcript.

"I didn’t get a really great response, in all honesty."

USB communications director Dominique Philibert said Thursday St. Boniface has the mandate to train French-language teachers, and has a good relationship with the other universities.

"The faculties of education at the other universities in Manitoba have always wholeheartedly supported USB’s faculté d’éducation in carrying out its provincial mandate, and this collaborative spirit is very much appreciated," she said.

Brandon University said the deans are working collaboratively, and recognize the shortages. "We also recognize that another area of dire need is northern teachers. At BU, we have an excellent track record of producing top-notch teachers who have shown long-term dedication to educating students in northern and rural Manitoba."

The University of Winnipeg said it would not comment. The University of Manitoba did not respond.

"It’s a short‑term solution to go to other provinces and hire," Wishart said. "There are some cultural differences... Retention is also a factor," he said.

Winnipeg School Division board chairman Sherri Rollins said Thursday the education deans have always been co-operative, unlike the province.

"Deans of education have been strong partners with the divisions in developing the staff we need," she said. "The partner that is not delivering right now... is the provincial government. They need to think about what their education cuts and the fire they have lit under the contracts of teachers has signalled to the next generation of teachers."

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society said the province loses about 40 French-language teachers a year to retirement, to other provinces such as B.C., which is recruiting heavily, and to private industry because of their language skills.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca