Academics at a Dublin teacher training college are to begin a two-year project to examine why immigrants who are qualified teachers are not working as such in Irish schools and what can be done about it.

The project, which is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality, will be conducted at Marino Institute of Education.

Project co-ordinator Dr Rory McDaid said there was limited data on how many, or how few, teachers with international backgrounds are working in Irish schools.

He said research showed the benefits to schools and students of having a diverse teaching staff.

However, Dr McDaid said teachers from immigrant backgrounds faced challenges gaining employment in Irish schools, despite having appropriate qualifications and valuable experience.

One of the main barriers to immigrant teachers getting work in the mainstream primary school sector is the requirement that they have a high standard of Irish.

However, immigrant teachers are also not a feature of the second level system, where there is no such requirement.

The launch of this project coincides with increasing concerns about teacher shortages in both primary and post-primary schools.

If it became easier for qualified teachers from abroad to enter the workforce, this would help address the shortage.