NEARLY half of all newly qualified teachers have found full-time permanent jobs in Scotland's schools – more than double the number from two years ago.

A survey of teachers who have recently completed their probationary year in the classroom found that, by spring this year, 45.1% had a full-time, permanent contract. That compares to just one in five teachers two years ago and one in four last year.

The figures were described as very encouraging" by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC), which carried out the survey.

Anthony Finn, chief executive of GTC Scotland, said: "This is the highest reported full-time permanent employment figure since 2007, and overall employment prospects both permanent and temporary continue to improve for our new teachers."

The Scottish Government, which has been under huge pressure on teacher employment, also welcomed the figures.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan said: "I am delighted the number of new teachers in employment is continuing to rise.

"This picture is consistent with recent findings from the 2012 Teacher Census and suggests that the employment prospects for new teachers have improved significantly."

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, described the survey as encouraging, but said more needed to be done.

"This shows that steps taken to address the problem – including the guarantee on teacher numbers that the EIS secured as part of the last pay agreement, and which Scottish Government committed to continuing for this year – are continuing to deliver better opportunities for newly qualified teachers," he said.

"While the continuing shift from temporary to permanent employment is encouraging, much more needs to be done to secure improved employment prospects for the significant number of new teachers who still don't gain permanent full-time jobs."

Teacher unemployment has been one of the biggest problems facing the Scottish Government in recent years. It was partly caused by the SNP's policy of training more teachers to bring down class sizes as school rolls fell.

Instead, councils faced with fewer pupils decided to cut teacher numbers to save money as the impact of the recession became apparent. At the same time, teachers who were expected to retire opted to stay on as their financial future became more uncertain.

In order to free up more places for unemployed teachers, the number being trained on postgraduate courses has been cut and extra money has been given to councils to increase teacher jobs.

A total of 306 teachers who carried out their probationary year in 2011-12 took part in the latest survey. As well as those who had found full-time, permanent teaching jobs, 5.2% had found a permanent part-time position.