NEWLY-QUALIFIED teachers who trained in Scotland are being forced to take jobs in the Middle East because they cannot find work here.
The young teachers are opting to teach in an international school in Qatar on permanent contracts rather than stay in Scotland and face being on the supply list for years.
It comes after new figures showed that only one in seven newly-qualified teachers has a permanent post, with just half of last year's probationers even managing to find temporary work.
A group of 15 teachers are leaving next month to start their new careers at The Cambridge School, Doha, after seeing adverts posted on a Scottish jobs website.
Nova Dingsdale, 26, from Parkhead in Edinburgh, is one of them and leaves next week.
She has applied for at least 30 jobs since finishing her year's probation in West Lothian at the start of the summer.
She said: "I was aware of the situation when I started but I was also told that West Lothian had the highest retention rate of probationers so that's where I chose to go to give me a better chance.
"I hoped that it would work out by the time I finished my probationary year, but obviously it hasn't. I feel kind of mixed about going (to Qatar].
"I'm quite excited, but I do feel that they shouldn't be putting too many teachers through the training college when there's no jobs.
"You do all that training and all that hard work and there's nothing at the end.
"If I didn't move abroad, I would have had to go on the supply list and would have had to get another job for the security.
"I'm happier that I'm going away to a permanent job than I would be staying here and being on the supply list."
Out of the 215 teachers who completed their probationary year in Edinburgh in 2008/09, only 19 were given permanent jobs.
Neil Mclean, the Edinburgh secretary of the teaching union NASUWT, said the figures for probationer employment were getting worse "year-on-year".
Mr Mclean, who is also a teacher at Castlebrae High, said: "I have members who, in the three years since graduation, have had only limited supply work, very few have got permanent jobs.
"Many of our young members have left to work in England.
"I have also had one member going to Australia and another to Canada to find work. They may not come back.
"Probationers in Scotland are well qualified and keen to work."
Roddy Hammond, of recruitment firm Sanza Teaching Agency, advertised the jobs at the Doha school after becoming aware of the dire situation in Scotland.
Although some Middle Eastern countries have a reputation for being repressive – especially where women are concerned – Mr Hammond said Qatar was much more liberal and would provide the Scottish teachers with a positive environment to work in.
He added: "It has a fantastic climate, it's very safe because there's next to no crime and the teaching experience is a good one because they are investing an awful lot of money into education."
'IT'S ALL COVER WORK, THERE'S NO SECURITY'
ONE Edinburgh high school teacher today told how she has not had a single permanent job since she qualified nearly five years ago.
The teacher, 38, who asked not to be identified, has had to survive on temporary contracts and supply work since graduating from Moray House.
She said: "It's all cover work and there's not permanency, which means I have no security.
"I have been to plenty of interviews and have been told that I came across exceptionally. I know I'm a good teacher so I don't take it personally, it's just the circumstances.
"What I'm waiting for is the baby boomers to retire, people of my parents' age, then I might get some permanency.
"I'm not willing to give up teaching because it is my passion but I'm having to look at other jobs where I can use my teaching skills.
"If a job came up in somewhere like Orkney or in England I would be prepared to leave Edinburgh, though I don't want to.
"I would also go to an English-speaking country like Australia or New Zealand."