A new programme aimed at helping immigrant teachers find work in Irish schools opened to applicants today.

The course, at Dublin’s Marino Institute of Education, aims to provide immigrants who are qualified teachers, but not working as such, with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enable them to find employment here.

Recent research has found that while Ireland’s school student population is now highly diverse, teachers here continue to be overwhelmingly 'white Irish' and middle class.

This initiative hopes to help change that profile.

The new course, which begins in January, is free and will comprise of both face-to-face and online learning.

It also includes in-school experience, which has been identified as important in helping immigrant teachers learn about the Irish education system.

Marino Institute hopes to offer places to around 30 applicants.

Minister of State for Justice and Equality David Stanton at the launch

The institute says course content and methodologies are informed by an extensive needs analysis carried out with teachers and schools, and the design of the programme draws on learning from similar programmes in other countries.

Dr Rory McDaid, co-ordinator of the project, says research demonstrates that there are significant benefits to having a diverse teaching population.

He says the institute knows of over 400 migrant teachers in Ireland who are looking for work, at a time when many schools are struggling to fill positions.

The initiative is part of the Migrant Teacher Project, which is being supported by the Department of Justice and Equality.

The Migrant Teacher Project also provides information, advice, and training to teachers who have qualified outside of Ireland, to help them to continue their profession in Irish primary and post-primary schools.