01.03.2012 POLICY

To few teachers in the future?

Several Member States, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Belgium, may face serious teacher shortages in the future, according to a new report published by the European Commission.

We mentioned the report in February, Key Data on Education in Europe 2012. The figures are for formal training only, no one has bothered to investigate the situation in non formal education. It shows that the number of graduates specialising in education is falling at a time when many current teachers are approaching retirement age. But it also highlights encouraging signs: funding for education is stable in most Member States and it underlines that higher education remains the best insurance policy against unemployment, with graduates more likely to find a job faster than non-graduates.

"This report is an invaluable resource for policy-makers and provides important guidance for future decisions. The professional development of teachers is a key factor in ensuring high quality education for our students. That's why Erasmus for All [the Commission's proposed new programme for education, training and youth] aims to strengthen the professional development of teaching staff while at the same time modernising education systems," commented Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. We can only hope this includes teachers working in non-formal education as well, they are in need of the same professional development programs as their colleagues in formal education.

The report finds that targeted training for teachers, such as mentoring, guidance for assessment and classroom observation, is now more widespread across Europe. However, these measures have not been sufficient to increase the attractiveness of teaching. The Commission wants to contribute to the attractiveness and quality of the profession by providing 1 million teachers with opportunities to gain teaching and training experience abroad as part of its proposed Erasmus for All programme.

The report finds that the share of the population with a tertiary qualification has risen and that graduates find jobs twice as quickly as people with lower qualifications (5 months compared to 9.8 months). This finding shows that the European Union's 2020 target for a 40% level of higher education attainment is supported by solid evidence; however it is also clear that graduates are increasingly over-qualified for their jobs and that some professions offer better employment perspectives than others; the choice of course is therefore increasingly important.

Text: Europe Rapid Press Release