Patti Holm, President of the Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon Branch, announced the release of a labour market report outlining the serious and widespread shortage of qualified French language teachers across British Columbia. She stated that "[t]he strength and popularity of educational programs, like French Immersion, is fuelling a province-wide need for more and more qualified French teachers."
Despite the demand for French Immersion, 86% of BC school districts indicated that it is "challenging" or "very challenging" to fill all available French Immersion teaching positions citing the lack of qualified applicants as the primary obstacle for French Immersion teacher recruitment. The secondary obstacle for French Immersion teacher retention was competition from other school districts. The report also finds that while BC certifies a total of approximately 2,700 teachers per year, it produces about one-fifth of the French Immersion teachers needed. French Immersion student enrolment in British Columbia has steadily increased for the past 16 years. Since 2004, student enrolment in French Immersion has increased by 38.8%, while overall public school enrolment has fallen by 7.8%. In 2013-2014, students enrolled in French Immersion programs accounted for 8.8% of the total public school student population.
According to a 2007 study conducted by Dr. Wendy Carr, 78% of elementary school teachers and 71% of middle school teachers do not feel comfortable speaking French, thus creating a gap in the Core French teacher's competency with the language. A majority of BC school districts do not require elementary and middle school teachers teaching Core French to have a specialized background in French that secondary school teachers have. Furthermore, the University of British Columbia is the only institution currently requiring all pre-service teachers to take at least one French methodology course as part of their teacher training prior to entering the workforce. Dr. Carr stated that "teacher education programs need to ensure that all candidates take a French methodology course so that new teachers have at least the basics to teach and inspire BC students to learn French as a second language". Despite a progressive decline in Core French enrolment since 2004, there are 180,000 students enrolled in BC's Core French program, constituting one-third of the total student body.
The full report can downloaded by clicking here, or using the link below.