Only one in five newly-qualified teachers has found a full-time permanent job in the classroom, a survey revealed today.
More than a quarter have failed to find any form of teaching work after completing their probationary year working at a school.
Education Secretary Mike Russell said the recession was a factor in the statistics, which he branded “unacceptable”.
The latest figures come two weeks after it was revealed teacher numbers dropped by 1,300 last year – with Fiona Hyslop sacked as education secretary after she blamed councils for the situation.
Today’s figures were contained in a survey carried out by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, whose chief executive Anthony Finn voiced concerns that “the numbers of new teachers in employment has dropped steadily in recent years”.
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the statistics were “particularly bleak and paint an alarming picture of the prospects for thousands of new teachers and Scottish education”.
Opposition parties also demanded action, with Labour claiming young teachers were “being thrown on the scrapheap because of the failure of Scottish ministers”.
GTC Scotland carried out the survey of newly-qualified teachers in October, sending a questionnaire to all 3,011 people who finished their probationary year in June.
Of the 1,456 people who replied, 20.2% had a full-time permanent contract – down from 30.6% last year.
And 27.5% were not employed in the teaching profession – up from 21% 12 months previously.
Mr Finn said: “As the professional regulatory body for teachers we are concerned that the numbers of new teachers in employment has dropped steadily in recent years.”
He added that the new education secretary “will no doubt wish to take steps to ensure that new teachers are not lost to the profession”.
Mr Smith argued that as people had been encouraged into teacher training there was “a moral obligation on the part of the Scottish Government and local authorities to provide a fair and appropriate level of opportunity for these new teachers”.
Labour education spokesman Des McNulty said: “These figures expose the woeful treatment of probationary teachers in Scotland.
“The number of teachers in permanent posts has crashed and we are now in a situation where one in four probationary teachers is either out of work or has left the profession entirely.”
Tory schools spokeswoman Liz Smith said the situation had “serious implications for our pupils’ education.
Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Margaret Smith said: “A 10% drop in those getting permanent contracts in a year is deeply worrying.”
Mr Russell said: “Of course these figures are un- acceptable. Part of the cause is the recession. We all know that.”
He said the Scottish Government had “already taken action by reducing the intake numbers into teacher education and offering councils the ability to free-up teaching posts through the early retiral scheme”.