Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union chairman Cheung Man-kwong said it was ridiculous that public resources were spent on training teachers who could not find a job. A glut of university graduates in Hong Kong is suffocating the teaching job market, he said. 'There are too many university graduates in society,' he said. 'They prefer to teach in secondary schools or even primary schools when they cannot find a job [in their chosen field].' Mr Cheung said one solution was to find places for unemployed teachers by launching more classes for the influx of migrant children from the mainland. His comments follow the release of figures which show that one-quarter of 1996-97 Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIE) graduates are unemployed. A survey, conducted late last month, indicated that 184 of 735 respondents were still unemployed. About 1,050 HKIE students graduated with certificates in education. Meanwhile, a phone survey conducted in mid-August by a group of concerned HKIE students turned up similarly downbeat figures. Of 373 graduates canvassed, 40 per cent had not found jobs for the 1997-98 academic year. HKIE deputy director Dr Pang King-chee blames the plight of the institute's students on the recruitment in schools of university graduates without specific teacher training. 'Apparently, the employment of untrained teachers is filling vacancies originally intended for trained non-graduate teachers,' he said. Education Department figures show that 423 university graduates started teaching jobs in 1994-95. One year later, the number of new graduate recruits in primary and secondary schools had more than quadrupled to 1,883. Dr Pang said not only was the institute concerned about its graduates' job prospects, but also it was worried about standards within the teaching profession. 'As teaching is a profession, it requires specialised knowledge, skills and attitudes,' he said. 'Professional preparation before entering in schools and classrooms is essential. 'Hong Kong's need for professionally trained teachers is expected to increase, given the Government's emphasis on upgrading basic education and the need to cater to the large numbers of newly arrived children from the mainland.' Dr Pang said the HKIE wanted to provide school principals with a deeper knowledge of the institute's aims and explain what its graduates had to offer. Tommy Li Pak-tong, a spokesman for the HKIE student concern group which conducted the phone survey, said school principals' attitudes towards HKIE graduates was an important factor. 'If principals insist on recruiting degree-holders, we cannot stop them,' he said. 'But I wonder if degree graduates can deliver knowledge effectively and arouse students' motivation for learning. They only have specialised knowledge on a subject and that is not enough.' The HKIE's certificate course includes a three-month placement at a school, with one-quarter of the curriculum focusing on a subject speciality. Fan Kam-ping, chairman of the Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, said: 'There are no guidelines for teacher recruitment set by the Education Department. I think the situation is unhealthy.'