Teachers' pay down compared to others

The top teacher pay scale in Australia is low compared with many OECD countries, a report says.
The top teacher pay scale in Australia is low compared with many OECD countries, a report says.

Teachers' salaries have been on the slide for 30 years compared to other Australian professions, with teachers now paid less than real estate agents and electricians, according to a new report.

Research conducted by Professor John Buchanan from the University of Sydney Business School will be presented in Sydney on Thursday to an inquiry into the changed nature and value of teachers' work, chaired by former WA premier Geoff Gallop.

The report found that in 1986 women teachers earned 102 per cent of the female professional's average wage and male teachers earned 99 per cent of the male professional's average wage.

"In 2018, however, the position of teachers had worsened - women teachers earning 93 per cent and men teachers earning 84 per cent of the respective professionals' average," the report says.

"Compared to a range of professional occupations teachers are amongst the lowest paid and even when compared to a range of specific non-professionals occupations, a number of such jobs pay more than teachers (eg real estate agents, electricians)."

While a decade ago, NSW teachers' rates set the pace for teachers' pay in Australia, they now are in the middle of the range, compared with other states.

While entry level wages for teachers were relatively high, the top teacher pay scale in Australia is low compared with many OECD countries.

There needs to be a minimum of a 10-15 per cent increase in teachers' wages if they are to be competitive in the Australian labour market.

"Compared to nearly all other professionals in Australia experienced teachers are paid significantly less than experienced lawyers, doctors, engineers and ICT professionals," the report says.

With reports of current and looming teacher shortages growing it would be difficult to overcome such problems without higher pay.

"Increasing pay is usually regarded as an 'essential ingredient' in any serious policy package devised to attract and retain labour."

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said a competitive professional salary took on greater significance in the context of a teacher shortages before an anticipated, huge growth in student numbers.

"According to Infrastructure NSW enrolments in NSW schools are projected to increase by approximately 300,000 or around 20 per cent by 2036," Mr Gavrielatos said.

"Our teachers are underpaid, undervalued and overworked."

Australian Associated Press