Support effective career start to ensure retention!

Support effective career start to ensure retention!

Teacher shortages have become a pressing concern in the European education sector, impacting a large majority of Member States.  Such shortages vary according to countries, geographical areas, in certain subjects (particularly STEM), or according to the particular needs of students, including students with special needs, students in multilingual and multicultural settings and students from socioeconomically deprived backgrounds. The main causes  identified  are the lack of adequate initial teacher education, high workload, the combination of teachers leaving the profession and an aging teacher population.

36% of teachers in primary and secondary schools are aged 50 and over. 9% of teachers in the European Union are over 60. Ageing teachers are a growing problem in 16 out of the 36 countries surveyed by Eurydice. At the same time that teachers are getting older, 11 countries report that there are too few students enrolling for initial teacher education. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway report that student drop-out from initial teacher education is their main challenge in terms of teacher supply and demand.

According to Eurydice data (2021), insufficient initial teacher education programmes contribute to teacher shortages in countries such as France, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Portugal, and Malta. This deficiency leads to low applicant numbers and high dropout rates within the teaching profession.  ETUCE member organisations also reported that initial teacher education does not provide novice teachers with the  preparation  for classroom work that they require; moreover, teacher training  should be reviewed to include new competences and skills necessary for teaching .  Enhancing the quality and inclusiveness of the initial teacher education is thus crucial. Providing comprehensive training, attractive incentives, and ongoing support will motivate aspiring teachers.

Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Belgium, Iceland, and Denmark experience both high numbers of teachers leaving the profession and a lack of high-quality initial teacher education. To address this double challenge, strategies must focus on fair recruitment and retention of teachers linked to improved quality of initial teacher education and a better induction phase. Creating attractive career paths is key to retaining experienced teachers. Offering professional growth, leadership roles, and specialisation opportunities help recognize teachers’ expertise, reduce drop-out rates and foster long-term commitment to the profession.

ETUCE advocates for the creation of new career paths and reinforce teacher retention to combat these critical problems. Establishing career paths for teachers is essential for professional growth and job satisfaction. Clear trajectories provide advancement opportunities, skill development, and specialized roles. This encourages continuous improvement and enhances student learning outcomes. Career paths demonstrate the value of the teaching profession, offering stability and appeal to aspiring teaching professionals.

Career paths should include access to quality continuous professional development (CPD) which is free of charge for the teachers and takes place during working hours. Access to CPD, workshops, and conferences keep teachers up to date with research, pedagogy, and technology and enhance teaching effectiveness, job satisfaction, and retention rates.

Additionally, career paths should offer leadership opportunities and collegial governance experiences within schools and the wider education community.

Teacher shortages in European education systems require effective solutions now. ETUCE welcomes that this is also a priority of the EU policy development in the European Education Area and that Education ministers of the EU Council are discussing about reducing teacher shortages. ETUCE  welcomes the Council resolution on the European Education Area: Looking to 2025 and beyond which announces the preparation of the European Year of Teachers.