New data on salaries and working conditions of teachers in the new OECD Report “Education at a Glance”


The annual OECD report “Education at a Glance” sheds light on discrepancies in the workload and the working hours of the teacher profession. The OECD calls on governments to value teachers’ working conditions and salaries to achieve quality education systems. 

On 8 September 2020, the OECD published the new “Education at a Glance”, the annual full comprehensive Report with data, statistics, and information on each level of education. The report is based on analysing the education system of 46 countries. The report focuses on Vocational Education and Training (VET) and offers updated information on teachers’ salaries and working conditions.

When it comes to salaries, data show that the teaching profession is less attractive than other professions. For example, lower secondary education teachers earn 11% less than all the other tertiary educated workers. The situation worsens if we look at single countries, as it is the case of Czechia where lower secondary teachers earn 35% less than other professionals with the same level of qualification.

Moreover, young teachers are more disadvantaged in terms of salaries, as they earn on average 66% less than senior colleagues with the same level of qualification. Across Europe as in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, and Portugal teachers at the top salary scale earn around 50% more than young teachers.

The report also confirms that higher education teachers typically have higher salaries than the colleagues in other levels of education (early childhood education, primary and lower secondary education). For example, in Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, and Norway higher education teachers earn around 30% more than early childhood education (ECE) teachers with the same teaching experience. This gap reaches even as high as 36% in Finland and 50% in Slovakia.

Furthermore, the OECD confirmed that the speed of career progression for teachers remains an important issue. Data shows that in some countries salaries grow much faster than in others. For example, in the United Kingdom arriving at the top salary scale takes around 10 years of service, while in Greece, Hungary Italy and Spain, it takes more than 25 years.

The report also offers an interesting insight about the workload of teachers.  OECD data shows that the teaching activity constitutes in average only 44% of teachers working time. This share decreases in Austria, Poland, and Turkey where teachers only spend around 35% of the entire workload in teaching activity, while in Luxembourg and the United Kingdom teaching activity covers more than 60% of the entire workload.

Teachers are required to carry out non-teaching duties as preparing lessons, administrative tasks, in-service training, and staff meetings. As a result, they have to perform these tasks in addition to the statutory working hours. This practice is an important issue as it contributes to deteriorating working conditions of teachers and has a negative impact on the attractiveness of the teaching profession.

The OECD highlights in the report that “working conditions and salaries can be part of the reasons for joining the teaching profession”. In ETUCE, we expect governments to take effective measures to  guarantee appropriate salaries and good working conditions as they are two critical components to ensure high-quality teaching.

The full report is available on the OECD website.