NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new report from NMSU’s SOAR Evaluation and Policy Center is painting a picture of education employment needs across New Mexico.

“We look a little closely to teacher positions then we paint a picture of vacancies in other educator positions as well,” said NMSU SOAR Evaluation and Policy Center Director Rachel Boren, “It shows there’s still a need across all these different areas for teachers across the state.”

The report shows a 9% increase in teacher vacancies across the state, increasing from 690 last year to 751 this year.

“That’s really disappointing because the state has done a lot to attract people into teaching,” said Albuquerque Teacher Federation President Ellen Bernstein, “I think what that shows is that we have an aging workforce, and we need to really focus on retention.”

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She said those numbers in the report have real impacts in the classroom.

“You can’t avoid noticing when you having a staffing shortage how it impacts kids and their learning, how it impacts staff and their workload, trying to make up for the vacancies or trying to coach a substitute so that they can do a good job with kids,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein said the state’s incentives will hopefully recruit and retain teachers, like the recently passed minimum salary of $50,000 and even more money for teachers who have more education and experience.

“We have over 50% of our workforce right now that are close to retirement. So, we want to have a way to say, ‘We love you. We respect you. We want you to stay in teaching, and we’re going to make sure this is a really doable rewarding job,'” she said.

The report also found the areas with the most vacancies were special education and elementary. The top subjects with vacancies continue to be math and science. The full report can be read here.