Sustain safe and secure working conditions!

How to make teaching attractive? Protect teachers’ safety and health!

Teachers, academics, researchers, and other educational personnel play a crucial role in shaping the future of our society. In addition to the important task of imparting skills and knowledge to new generations, teachers are also essential to enable students' personal and emotional full growth and development. To attract and retain qualified professionals in the teaching profession, it is vitally important to enhance the status and attractiveness of the teaching profession as a career providing adequate salaries, and decent working conditions with a positive societal impact. However, the attractiveness of the teaching profession is constantly undermined by heavy workloads and high-stress levels that strongly affect teachers' job performance and satisfaction. In the framework of its Campaign "Make Teaching Attractive", ETUCE sheds light on the interrelation between Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in education and the status and attractiveness of the teaching profession.

In the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) conducted by EU-OSHA, psychosocial risks, noisy environments, and musculoskeletal disorders are highlighted as the most significant OSH risks for the teaching profession. In addition, workplace violence is a worryingly growing trend, negatively affecting staff safety and well-being. These risks have been further intensified by the pandemic and the digital transformation of education. The survey further shows that the education sector finds psychosocial risks the most challenging to manage compared to other OSH risks. Furthermore, the Eurofound Survey on working conditions in Europe reveals that 27% of employees in the education sector feel emotionally drained from their work and that teachers are more susceptible to mental and psychosomatic illnesses, as well as exhaustion, fatigue, headache, and tension due to their work. Education trade unions further express concerns concerning the unprecedented cases of burnout and dissatisfaction in the teaching profession.

While the situation varies across countries, the most common factors relating to deteriorating physical and mental health among education workers are increasing expectations and classroom demands, low salaries, and unclear definitions of working time. Additionally, increasing violence and harassment and the impact of digitalisation on access to education are important issues affecting teacher health and safety at work. In this context, ETUCE emphasises the need for a supportive work environment that prioritises teachers’ physical safety and mental health to address psychosocial risks and alleviate the teacher shortage afflicting many European countries. Therefore, ETUCE demands governments and policymakers take effective measures to improve the safety and well-being of teachers, academics, researchers, and other education personnel to restore the attractiveness of the teaching profession, with particular attention to the young generations.