Government targets for increasing the supply of teachers will be missed unless new measures to boost student interest in the profession are introduced, the Teacher Training Agency has warned.
A multi-million pound package of initiatives to boost teacher supply and protect the quality of teaching as pupil intakes in schools rise has been proposed by the agency.
The package is designed to promote "key principles" laid down by the TTA, including emphasis on high-quality training and increasing diversity in teacher training programmes.
An internal TTA report on recruitment to initial teacher training warns: "If the challenging Department for Education and Employment targets are to be met, it is essential that strategic planning begins now to avoid emergency action in three years time and also avoid jeopardising the key principles."
The report suggests broadening the range of teacher training courses in two ways.
Firstly through the introduction of a "managing agent" approach, where local authorities and higher education institutions could offer to manage a training programme run in a group of schools.
Secondly, through a graduate teacher scheme, targeted at those whose knowledge, understanding and skills, combined with previous experience of working with children, would enable them to move directly into a teaching post.
The training agency has earmarked Pounds 7.9 million so that universities and colleges can bid for funding to promote teacher training in shortage subject areas such as mathematics, science and modern languages.
It has also launched a Pounds 1.2 million teacher training promotions campaign and set aside Pounds 1.6 million for other initiatives such as "taster" courses, allowing students to get some experience of teaching.
And now it is setting up a new teacher supply section to concentrate on the introduction and progress of similar initiatives, to be headed by a new director of recruitment.
A spokesman for the TTA said: "This is an important area of our work. We are still in the process of defining the precise role of the supply team, but they will be liaising closely with institutions on various initiatives to promote recruitment."
The TTA said teaching is not seen by many students as attractive because of the lack of professional development opportunities.