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Fewer students choose teaching
Fewer students choose teaching

Fewer people are aspiring to become teachers, with WA universities reporting an 18 per cent fall this year in the number who applied to do teacher training.

An analysis of Tertiary Institutions Service Centre figures by Edith Cowan University shows WA's four public universities received about 900 fewer applications from people wanting to study teaching, compared with last year.

Chris Brook, head of the school of education at ECU, which trains most of WA's teachers, said reasons for the fall were unclear but could be linked to perceptions it was getting harder to find a teaching job.

Education Department workforce executive director Cliff Gillam said an overall fall in applications was not a big concern as long as there was an increase in the proportion of students studying secondary teaching, particularly those specialising in maths and science.

He said the department had raised concerns with universities they were turning out too many primary-trained teachers. "We are going to need significantly more secondary teachers, particularly from 2015 when Year 7 students begin secondary school," he said.

"I would encourage anyone looking to obtain a teaching qualification to consider enrolling in a secondary teaching course, as this will enhance greatly their prospects of getting a job."

Professor Brook said ECU had noted the concerns, but even though the Education Department was WA's biggest employer, Catholic and independent schools still needed primary-trained teachers.

Universities had to project four years into the future to meet demand caused by population growth.

"We are proceeding with a degree of caution," he said. "It's in no one's interest to have a glut."

Mr Gillam said about 1000 more positions would be available in high schools this year and 500 fewer in primary schools. About 700 primary teachers had shown interest in retraining for secondary teaching through the "switch" program.

Michael O'Neill, education dean at WA's only private university Notre Dame, said its enrolments were up 11 per cent.