New Eurydice report: European schools need more teachers and training


The Eurydice network, established by the European Commission, has released a report which analyses the relation between the policies that regulate the teaching profession in Europe, and the attitudes, practices and perceptions of teachers.  The report focuses on the nearly two million lower secondary education teachers employed in the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey.

The analysis includes aspects such as initial teacher training, continuing professional development, transnational mobility, as well as teacher demographics, working conditions, and the attractiveness of the profession. The report provides some best practices from several European countries containing following key findings.

  • Teaching is a profession carried out mainly by women, with men representing less than one-third of teachers. Even in the few countries in which proportions of male and female teachers are similar, fewer men are entering the profession than previously.
  • In Europe, only one-third of teachers are aged below 40. In some education systems the low share of young teachers paired with the retirement of older teachers could lead to severe shortages.
  • In 15 European countries, the minimum level of initial teacher training programmes is that of a Bachelor's qualification, whereas 17 countries require at least a Master's degree. The minimum length of initial teacher training is usually between four and six years.
  • Teachers feel they need continuous professional development (CPD) on 'teaching students with special needs', 'ICT skills for teaching', 'new technologies in the workplace', 'approaches to individualised learning' and 'teaching cross-curricular skills'.
  • Within the EU, 27 % of teachers have been abroad at least once for professional purposes for at least one week. The proportion is highest in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Modern foreign language teachers are the most transnationally mobile.
  • Currently, 28 education systems in Europe use labour market monitoring to track the balance between teacher supply and demand, either on an independent basis or as part of official planning procedures.
  • Nine countries have implemented or are currently implementing promotion campaigns to enhance the image of the teaching profession and attract new recruits into teacher training, as well as newly qualified teachers into the profession.

The findings show that more needs to be done to improve the quality of teaching in Europe. ETUCE has been advocating that governments should lower the shortage of qualified teachers by engaging more male teachers into the profession and by increasing the number of novice teachers and improving the quality of their induction phase. Further efforts need to be made as regards ensuring appropriate working time, workload and salary, allocating at least 10% of teachers' working time to continuous professional development, and enhance effective social dialogue in education and training.

In 2013, ETUCE carried out a survey about the status and attractiveness of the teaching profession in times of the economic crisis as a key task for social partners in education. In the survey, teacher unions and education employers' organisations from 41 countries concluded that the general promotion of the profession's image in society and in media is the most powerful action to improve the status of teachers and the attractiveness of the profession. Teachers' salaries and better continuous training were also considered as a priority. This survey was the central part of a one year project conducted by ETUCE and EFEE, the European social partners in education.

In this light, the new Eurydice report offers a broad data update on the most important issues concerning the development of the teaching profession. However it does not provide many new suggestions for improvement. The whole report, "The Teaching Profession in Europe: Practices, Perceptions, and Policies", is available online and is based on Eurydice and Eurostat/UOE data, as well as on a secondary analysis of TALIS 2013. The reference year of the report is 2013/14.