Nanaimo-Ladysmith Faculty District struggling to rent training assistants amid scarcity

The labor shortage has affected many employers, including the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

“We face the challenge of filling almost every position these days,” said Scott Saywell, the district’s superintendent.

Speech therapists, French immersion teachers, and planners are among the hard-to-fill positions, according to the school district. The most difficult job, however, is the job of educational assistants – people who work with children with special needs.

Saywell says the need for educational assistants, or EAs, is acute and, with COVID-19 and more absences every day, some are not being replenished in schools.

“The current Education Committee has greatly increased support for students in the classroom in the form of EAs, which has exacerbated the labor shortages we are seeing in a number of positions,” he said.

The shortage led to a new post – a responsible adult – this year to fill the gaps.

“The position provides additional support for the class teacher without fulfilling the typical role of an EA or educational assistant. The plan is to maintain the safety and supervision of students during a shortage where we cannot fill the position and while we are actively searching for educational assistant positions, ”said Saywell.

It is hoped that all responsible adult workers will take the evening classes required to become educational assistants.

“I know everyone faces a labor shortage, but those who do not have a labor shortage are high-paying, full-time jobs,” said Jeff Virtanen, president of CUPE Local 606.

The union, which represents education assistants, said it was not the right way to water down job requirements, but rather the district should make the job more attractive to hire skilled people.

Virtanen says EA lost a week’s salary when the spring break was extended a few years ago, and with 26 or 28 hours a week the job isn’t that attractive.

“What we hear from our EAs is that the pay isn’t bad, but the hours are. It’s these 26 hours. Most of our EAs have a part-time job, ”said Virtanen.

The school district says EA’s pay is negotiated at the provincial level, but they make between $ 27.16 and $ 28.37 an hour and would prefer to hire more EAs as “responsible” adults.

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