The 6th European Education Summit: talks about teacher shortage crisis


The 6th European Education Summit, which took place on 30 November 2023, was centred on the outcomes and challenges of the mid-term review of the European Education Area (EEA) and teacher shortages. The event was attended by ministers of education of EU countries, representatives of the European Commission, social partners and key stakeholders, including an ETUCE delegation. The discussions focused mainly on the urgent need to improve the attractiveness of teachers’ careers, on the future of AI in education, quality early childhood education, education and training funding, sustainability, equality and investment in education, and how to shape upcoming EU policy priorities on education.

Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth underlined the ongoing challenges related to the green and digital transition, equity and inclusivity in education, lack of basic skills, and teacher shortages. As the lack of attractiveness of the teaching profession stood out as major challenges, she called the EU member states with active involvement of the social partners and key stakeholders for urgent actions to address the interconnected roots of this problem, including salary and working conditions.

During the Plenary discussion on this topic, ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken emphasised the need to recruit and retain teachers, as 40% of the teaching workforce is over 50 years old, setting a dramatic scene for the next decades. Low salaries, bad working conditions, lack of access to training, low-quality initial education, limited access to free training during working hours, high workload and heightened stress were highlighted as the factors behind the lack of attractiveness of the profession: "Many teachers are leaving the profession mid-career because they do not receive the support they need. They work in shifts and do not have time to prepare lessons or access training. Also, their salaries are low and not commensurate with their qualifications, that is why teachers turn to other better paid professions”.

In addressing the teacher shortage crisis, in line with ETUCE’s Campaign on the attractiveness of the profession, she also highlighted the crucial need to promote teachers’ professional autonomy and academic freedom, value and empower their profession, ensure social dialogue and create democratic school cultures:  “Teachers should be given trust and autonomy to address their students’ needs. Their voices, along with their representatives and teacher unions, should be an integral part of decision-making processes. Collegial governance is fundamental at both the national and regional levels, as teachers’ and their trade unions’ involvement in shaping education policies is essential for positive school environments”.