Fifty school districts across Central Texas participated in the annual Education Service Center Region 12 educator job fair on Wednesday afternoon.
The event, which was held virtually last year, brought 75 job seekers during a time when teacher and staff shortages are facing school districts across the country.
"It's a great, convenient opportunity for candidates to meet with many people in one place," said Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, director of customer and marketing services for ESC Region 12.
The pool of potential candidates isn't as large as it once was. The number of certified teachers in Texas fell 20% between 2010 and 2019. The pandemic only worsened shortages.
"With each year, as teachers are exploring other options, careers or career moves, or maybe just long-term residual impacts from the pandemic, we are seeing teacher shortages," said Stacey Parker, executive director of academics for Marlin ISD.
Those shortages are adding increased demands for current staff.
"Some teachers may have had some planning time, where sometimes they'll have to go cover another classroom, or we have principals and counselors, substitute teachers, individuals having to cover those classrooms and those gaps," Marshall-Higgins said.
With fifty districts in the room and demand for candidates high, the competition for candidates was also high. Amanda Adams, assistant superintendent of West ISD, said her district plays to its strength of being a small, community-oriented district.
"I think every district offers a little different spin on how they do things," Adams said. "And so we just make sure we advertise our programs and make sure everybody knows what opportunities they can have."
ESC Region 12 said that competition is actually benefiting candidates in some ways, as more opportunities become available and teacher salaries increase.
To find Central Texas education job listings, visit the Region 12 jobs page.