No Plan B?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I’m not sure how other people’s education systems are working, but in the province of Ontario things aren’t really going all that well between teachers and the government.  The issue (from what I can see) is Bill 115 – apparently teachers don’t like the fact that they’re no longer allowed to negotiate wages or dispute the terms of agreements being imposed on them (I’ve read the whole thing, these seem to be the high points).  From various facebook postings and news stories around teacher labour actions the feeling in the profession is that they have lost their constitutional rights.

Now, I understand that this is an early retirement blog, but I think that it also focuses on financial freedom.  Here’s what I know about the current teacher dispute:

  1. Teachers are being forced to take a 1.5% pay cut through unpaid Professional Development Days.
  2. Teacher’s pay is being frozen for two years.
  3. Teachers are not allowed to dispute the deal through the courts, arbitration or otherwise.
  4. It seems like these kind of disputes, or something like them takes place at least every five years.
  5. People keep going to school to be teachers.

Here’s the thing, I work for the government of Ontario as well, for a crown agency.  I am not unionized and have my wages dictated to me, with virtually no recourse.  What I have noticed through the whole discussion from the teachers is that none of them seem to be quitting.  If, in my position I decided I was underpaid and unappreciated, I would quit and find a different job.  I guess I really don’t see the whole thing being as big a deal as it’s made out to be if there isn’t a mass exodus from the profession over the next five years.

The reason why I have a financial plan, as well as the reason I continued my education to attain an accounting designation was to increase flexibility over my career to not be stuck in a job.

I’m sure that most of the teachers who are mad at the government right now could find a job somewhere else in the workforce eventually, but I don’t think a lot of them have even considered this option (from the few I have talked to), or even have a plan B if things get worse in their job.  Given the fact that there are going to continuously be labour disputes, if I were in this industry, I would start looking for an alternative plan sooner rather than later.

Would you stick around in this profession if you continuously got dumped on by both the government and the taxpayers?  Do you have an alternative career path or an “out” from your current job?

13 thoughts on “No Plan B?”

  1. You make a good point about finding another job if you’re not happy. The reason why few teachers would leave for other jobs is because few of them could get work paying as much. The piece that is often missing from this debate is that not all teachers are the same — not even close. The best teachers are worth what they’re being paid. But most are not. And worse, it’s far too difficult to get rid of the worst ones.

  2. A plan B is on my list and Im working on it. I,prefer to have a plan B knowing that I can move forward if need be. This always sounds easier said then done though so a plan is always part of my agenda. One thing I was told from a wise man, “never stop learning” meaning continue to educate yourself. You never know when it will come in handy.

  3. It’s easy for you to say you’d quit and find another job if you felt you were underpaid and unappreciated as you could easily find another job in Ontario as an accountant. If a teacher is getting underpaid in Ontario, their only option is to move to a different province to find a teaching job, find a different job in Ontario (how many entry level jobs are going to pay as much as a teaching position?), or suck it up. That’s why there isn’t an exodus from the profession. Why would they waste the 4-6 years of university time & tuition just to quit and start all over again at a lower paying job?

  4. @Aaron, you make a good point. Teaching wages are very good and would be hard to replace. This is why people agree with freezing wages. Teachers have it good.

    Also, you don’t need to spend 4-6 years to get a new degree to get a new job. You should only need some basic continuous learning to get into another area. For example, I know of someone who was a teacher and moved into IT as a BA. If you have a good head on your shoulders and some basic training on top of your degree you should be able to move just fine.

    If you want to completely switch careers to be an accountant or lawyer or something well then yes you will need more advanced training. The same can be said for someone working in IT who wants to switch to another professional career.

  5. Dave, I really like the idea of this post. But it seems that in practice, keeping an eye on the job market and available openings is time consuming and not a lot of fun. So it ends up not really happening. At the same time, I’m sure a lot of those teachers would jump ship if an opportunity landed in their lap.

    So I’ll just agree with your sentiment that if teachers really didn’t like what was happening, they would start looking for other opportunities. Let’s see what they do.

  6. I did not like my job (I liked my clients but I was underpaid and not appreciated) so I increased my training, found a new job and quit.

    My plan B was to increase my employability and to find a new job before I quit the old one.

    I have a new plan B. Eliminate debt so that I can live on a smaller income if my hours are cut or if my position is eliminated.

  7. Teachers still got it good inspite of the restrictions. Most important to them is the 12 weeks a year they get off. What other profession or job has that perk?

  8. Okay, I’m not in Ontario, so I don’t know if things are the same there as in BC. But we have pretty contentious teacher-govt relations here too, and I hear these same arguments all the time. A few things to note–teachers are often not paid for those 12 weeks off. It’s not “vacation” per se, and often there is much behind-the-scenes work going on while classes are out. Teaching is an incredibly hard gig, and though you make somewhat professional/public sector wages with good benefits, it’s not a job people go into for the money! Good grief! Otherwise, we’d all be teachers! Would you do it?!

    As for Plan B, I guess it makes sense from one perspective, and we should all have transferable skills because life can always be unexpected. But again, teachers go into this career because they feel it’s an essential social calling that they *want* to do. It’s not a career you try out, then decide, well the kids still need an education, but you know, the government’s too mean, so I’m outta here. If they believe in education and the value of their service, they’ll fight for it to continue to be valued. It’s not a finance job where you just switch companies.

    Remember, too, that getting to be a permanent teacher is also not an easy process, at least here. You graduate with big student debt, then go on a sub list for a few years trying to scrape by before, if you’re lucky, you get a regular job and can start paying off loans and getting on with your life. I’m not surprised people don’t want to just walk away from the game.

    Now all that said, I think the days of good union jobs and strong public sectors are over regardless of what side politically you take. I think all of us need to get used to living on less, even if we think we shouldn’t…

  9. I live in Ontario. Both my parents were teachers, plus one aunt (all retired now). Currently I have two cousins and a cousin in law who all teach in Ontario. If I too had gone into teaching, sure I’d picket if I wasn’t doing something illegal and thought it would benefit me. But in truth, I’d never walk away from that pension. It’s the best in the entire country.

    Instead of teaching I’ve worked in data analysis, mostly in the high tech industry. I’ve been laid off three times and carried on with the next job without missing a beat. Over the years when tech was in the toilet I had many years of no raises. I could have left but I liked my job and knew things would turn around. Starting over somewhere else rather than waiting it out seemed pointless. A better position/pay and I might have jumped, but a lateral move just to get into an industry doing better? Not worth the hassle.

    Teaching isn’t for everyone. Yes you get every summer off, but you also only get your holidays when the school schedule says so. Want to go to the Carribean in January? Too bad, you get Spring break. No extra days. In Ontario, teachers are well paid, and have a fabulous pension. It all comes down to whether that is worth having your schedule out of your control, and having to put up with whiny kids or smartass teenagers.

    As for quitting teaching meaning you forfeit years of education, that’s not the case. Teaching requires a basic undergraduate degree plus one extra year of teachers college. You’d really only be “wasting” the one extra year. Assuming your basic degree wasn’t in basket weaving you should have something to fall back on. Yes you may need to add some additional training (I do find most teachers as sadly behind on technology). And if you want out of the school/union environment but still enjoy teaching, moving to corporate training and course design would be easy transitions

  10. it’s easy right now in tech on the West coast of the US, so the focus for me is on financial independence and then a small fund to diversify skills after riding the boom for a bit … targets are things like law, accounting, etc.

    If I weren’t in tech, then I’d definitely be working on accounting certifications and whatnot quite immediately.

  11. Something I completely agree with – if you hate it that much, you should quit! Trust me I work for a bank, we get our wages dictated as well. It’s called capitalism, get used to it.

    What’s really funny is the ads the teachers are running about “it’s about democracy.” Ummm… so the teachers are upset the leaders we democratically elected want to do something they don’t like, and are protesting it? And they want to be the good guys in the debate? Who did I elect, my MP or my kid’s teacher? My MP he or she gets to make the call, not the teachers.

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