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Work permit exemption proposed for secondary school teachers 8 February 2013

The Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced that it is bringing forward an Order under the Control of Employment Act 1975 for Tynwald approval, which will add secondary school teachers to the list of employments which are exempt from the requirement to have a work permit in the Isle of Man.

Currently, a number of groups are exempt from the requirement for work permits, such as doctors and dentists. The decision to propose an exemption for secondary school teachers has been taken in response to the Department of Education and Children’s (DEC) growing recruitment difficulties.

The DEC has presented evidence to the DED that the time taken to secure a work permit is leading to recruits opting for employment elsewhere. Schools in England and Wales are not subject to such delays and can make firm offers immediately, taking on teachers who are still waiting for confirmation of their appointment to schools in the Isle of Man.

When faced with an offer of a certain post elsewhere or an offer of a post on the Island that is subject to securing a work permit, many individuals have confirmed that they are choosing the secure offer. This is inhibiting the DEC as it seeks to recruit the best teachers possible to educate the Island’s children.

Given that there is no evidence of a significant number of unemployed secondary school teachers who are Isle of Man workers, this proposed exemption should not adversely affect local individuals. As a result, the DED is satisfied the exemption order is in the Island’s best interests

Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin MHK explained:

"We have been liaising closely with the Department of Education and Children on this issue, which has included valuable feedback from all the secondary school headteachers. It has been made apparent to us that our Island’s secondary schools are often losing out on candidates for teaching posts because we cannot make unconditional job offers to them. This often follows what can be a very expensive recruitment process, the costs of which are borne by the schools themselves. The market for teachers at this level is very competitive. This will ultimately impact on our children’s education and their future prospects if schools continue to experience difficulty in recruiting teachers. As a result I am satisfied this exemption is in the Island’s best interests."

If a teacher in an Island school resigns in May, for example, intending to leave in the summer, the school struggles to advertise the post, shortlist candidates, appoint a replacement and then secure the necessary work permit in time for the recruit to resign from their current post before the 31 May deadline – necessary for a September start. If that deadline is missed, the new teacher is committed to remain at their current school until January of the following year.

The problem is impacting on secondary recruitment in particular because of the shortage of specialists in certain subjects.

The difficulty with recruitment is confined to secondary school teachers in particular and is not experienced in the field of recruitment for primary school teachers.

The Minister continued:

"On the whole, newly qualified teachers appointed to primary schools are Isle of Man Workers. The Department of Education and Children always tries to give preference to Isle of Man Workers for secondary school teaching vacancies but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that our secondary schools are fully staffed with either Isle of Man or off-Island applicants."
"Therefore, the Order we are putting before Tynwald should provide greater reassurance to parents that Government will use its powers to ensure appropriate resources are provided for their children’s education."
"This Order does not disadvantage newly-qualified teachers who are Isle of Man Workers providing they are able to teach the subjects where vacancies are available. For example, it would not be in a school’s interests to appoint a specialist teacher in Geography if the vacancy was for a Maths teacher."

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