Education trade unions suggest solutions to reduce teacher shortages in Europe


Facing teacher shortages across Europe, what solutions can we offer to make the profession more attractive and sustainable? The Education and Training Monitor 2023 sheds light on this pressing issue, revealing stark statistics and urging immediate action.

Data from the Education and training monitor 2023 suggest solutions to reduce teacher shortages in Europe. The Education and Training Monitor 2023 highlights teacher shortage as a major issue across the EU. For example, Early Childhood Education sector (ECE) is impacted by low salary, bad working conditions, high pressure and lack of training, making the profession unattractive.

Country-specific data shows:

In Italy, during the 2021/2022 school year, only 73,000 of 125,000 teaching posts were filled permanently, with teachers earning 27% less than other tertiary-educated workers.

Germany faces a projected increase from 40,000 to 80,000 teacher vacancies by 2030.

In Denmark 13% of primary and lower secondary school teachers lack teacher training.

In Poland 45,000 teachers were above the retirement age ( 7% of the teaching workforce) in 2022

ETUCE member organisations have recently discussed possible solutions to tackle this problem. They are of the view that making the teaching profession attractive requires urgent actions from the EU Member States and effective social dialogue to ensure decent pay and fair working conditions for all teachers.. Teacher shortage varies from country to country, by region, and subject, requiring tailored research and solutions. For instance, while Ireland does not face rural shortages, Finland does, particularly in Early Childhood Education  and Vocational Education and Training, seethe Teacher Shortage in the Nordic countries Report 2023​.  

Improving initial teacher education conditions and addressing young teacher students' challenges are essential. It is unacceptable that  qualification requirements are lowered because it negatively affects the quality of educatoin; instead, countries should offer incentives like free Masters programmes for aspiring teachers (e.g., Iceland) and support novice teachers who suffer from unaffordable housing rates..

Data from the Education and Training Monitor 2023 shows a decline in novice teachers in Ireland due to high living costs since 2015. Supporting teacher students financially during their induction phase is a critical step. Some governments are already hiring non-qualified teachers, and plan to broaden the initial teacher qualifications (e.g. in Finland), or reduce the minimum level of required qualification from Masters to Bachelors (e.g. in France). ETUCE insists on Master level qualifications for all teachers and salary increases to match those of other tertiary-educated workers.

Many teachers leave the profession already at the start of their career in their search for better pay and working conditions than in the education sector. The workers seeking “alternative pathways” into teaching and coming from different professions should be supported so that they can access initial teachers’ qualifications with flexible training hours, and they need to have equal treatment concerning salary, contracts, and status as teachers who obtained their initial qualifications in a traditional way. Indeed, the European Semester process plays a crucial role in recommending improvements in public investment in education, fair pay, and working conditions.