Mathematics is the key to the sciences and engineering. If Ireland is to achieve ambitions in ICT, information and communications technology which are vital areas of the economy, strong foundations in secondary school maths teaching are essential.
However,it will continue to be difficult for secondary schools to attract a sufficient number of teachers of advanced maths in competition with business. With the continued growth in the computer industry and in computerised trading in financial derivatives and financial securities, there will continue to be numerous job openings in those industries for mathematicians on very high commercial salaries for the foreseeable future.
Schools could resolve this expected long term scarcity of maths teachers if they were allowed like hospitals to contract out the service. Hospitals contract for the services of hospital consultants and agency nurses to cover scarcities of staff and schools could do so too.
Contracting out would allow schools to raise the pay of maths teachers to compete with commercial rates of pay. As contractors,maths teachers would not be permanent employees with civil service pension rights and job security. That disadvantage would tend to keep experienced existing salaried teachers from joining contractors.
Another disadvantage for contractors is that they might be required to teach in different schools depending on local needs.
Naturally, trade unions would prefer if all teacher salaries were raised to a far higher level needed to attract sufficient maths teachers but that would be totally unrealistic.