The number of newly-qualified teachers finding full-time work in Scotland has dropped from 30% to 20%, a General Teaching Council study has found.
The survey also revealed that more than one in four (27.5%) had been unable to find teaching employment of any kind.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has warned the lack of jobs for new teachers was damaging education.
Education Secretary Mike Russell said the the drop was "unacceptable" but that he was in talks with councils.
A total of 1,456 new teachers out of a possible 3,011 responded to the questionnaire, and of those 20.2% had a full-time permanent contract - down from 30.6% last year.
The number of probationer teachers who had participated in the Teacher Induction Scheme and had part-time permanent employment contracts was 3.2%. This was up from 2.8% on last year.
I am in detailed discussions with councils, which employ Scotland's teachers. I am approaching these talks with an open mind
Mike Russell Education secretary
And the number of new teachers with full-time temporary employment contracts stood at 15.3%. This was down from 16.1% the previous year.
But the number of newly qualified teachers with part-time temporary employment contracts was 7.6%, up from 5.5%.
The chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Anthony 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.
"The Teacher Induction Scheme is world-renowned and the highly skilled and enthusiastic teachers who graduate from it have much to contribute to the development of our new curriculum."
'Left in limbo'
EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said: "The figures in today's report are particularly bleak, and paint an alarming picture of the prospects for thousands of newly qualified teachers and for Scottish education.
"The report shows that just one new teacher in five was able to find a full-time permanent teaching post since August this year.
"And only one in four found any type of permanent post, either full- or part-time.
New teacher Donald Macdonald tells how a lack of opportunity is affecting him
"Both of these figures are significantly lower than last year's and indicate a continuing decline in the number of teaching posts in the system, which goes some way to explaining why we now have almost 2,500 fewer teachers in Scottish classrooms than was the case just two years ago."
Mr Russell said: "Of course these figures are unacceptable. Part of the cause is the recession. We all know that.
"But at any time, enthusiastic new teachers are an asset to the education system and need to be working in it, not left in limbo."
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".
But he said he wanted to do more, adding: "I am in detailed discussions with councils, which employ Scotland's teachers. I am approaching these talks with an open mind and believe we can jointly find a better way forward."
'Treated like dockers'
Scottish Labour education spokesman Des McNulty said: "The number of teachers in permanent posts has crashed and we are now in a situation where one in four probationary teachers are either out of work or have left the profession entirely.
"Young teachers are being treated today in the same way that dockers were 40 years ago. It is totally unacceptable."
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Margaret Smith said: "A 10% drop in those getting permanent contracts in a year is deeply worrying."
The Scottish Conservative schools spokeswoman, Liz Smith, said: "This is yet further depressing news for the teaching profession and those aspiring to become part of it.
"Many people give up other careers to go into teacher training and it is a huge worry, particularly at a time of severe economic recession, that so many are facing such a bleak future."
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