SARAH * worked in the translation field before retraining as a secondary school teacher when she was 32. But, unable to get a permanent post, she had to work as an office clerk for a year. She is now about to start work as a Covid-19 contact tracer to supplement her general supply teaching work.

Back in 2012, the first class honours graduate was told there was a shortage of modern language teachers and she thought she could put her fluency in French and German to good use and forge a satisfying new career in a vital public service role.

She did a postgraduate diploma at Strathclyde University and completed a probationary year teaching German in a high school in a secondary school in the west of Scotland.

After qualifying, she built up her experience as a supply teacher teaching French as well as German. But after eight years and at the age of 39, she has still found herself unable to get a permanent job.

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“There’s about 200 people chasing every permanent modern language job. I’ve managed to get down to the last two candidates but never got the job,” said Sarah, who lives in west central Scotland.

“Between 2017 and 2018 I had to take a full year out of teaching and do basic office work because I couldn’t get any work at all in teaching. It was a low paid job, but at least it was a year’s contract and it gave me the assurance that I could actually pay my bills for the year,” she said.

“At an East Dunbartonshire school there were 200 applicants for a French permanent position. For a German-only position in Renfrewshire there were 67 applicants. Sometimes they do not tell you the figures at interview stage

“Most of the time I do not get to the interview stage though now. I have not been interviewed for many recently, even though I have vast experience and I’m confident in my job applications, each which take about five hours to complete.

“I have not had any interviews for East Renfrewshire in five years. I also applied for three Renfrewshire jobs in February and got declined for one and didn’t even get a response for the other two.

“Word is that it is off-putting when you are now at the top of the salary scale. It is cheaper for the councils to take on a probationer. I applied to South Lanarkshire’s supply list three times and was told no demand for languages so I not added.”

She continued: “Glasgow city has only ever advertised one modern languages job in the eight or so years I have been looking for permanent work.”

At one point Sarah said she was told that German wasn’t the favoured language in schools, so she went back to university to train to teach Spanish too.

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“I just finished in May. I have got full registration in all three languages but despite this I am still unable to find a permanent job,” she said.

Sarah currently does some “area cover” general teaching work, but this does not involve her teaching languages.

At the beginning of lockdown she applied for a job as a contact tracer and was relieved to get the post. “I’ve been offered bank work as a contact tracer and will be starting that very soon.”

“The public are told ‘we need teachers’ but that’s not the case. There are 300 people on my WhatsApp group all struggling to get work and that is just one group in Scotland.

“I will give teaching another year. If I haven’t got a job by then I will leave teaching. I’m a first class honours graduate, a straight-A student and I feel I’ve been sold a false product,” she added.

* Sarah has requested that her real name is not used.