Future teacher shortages: Politicians must act urgently

They model the teacher shortage up to 2035. Why is this so important now?

We know that there was an increase in births from 2010 to 2020; The first strong groups have already started school, and there is already a slight shortage of teachers in primary schools. But we won’t see the big drama for four or five years, when these kids start going to high school. In fact, it is already too late to confront this in a reasonable way, and there will be aggravation elsewhere. This is shown by the example of Bavaria, where the problem was recognized and courses for teaching degrees were opened in primary schools with great success. But only a few of them decided to become high school teachers, which often involved dealing with children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. At the same time, we will increasingly be faced with the topics of digitalization or green technology in the future, i.e. topics that require strong analytical skills. Educational success in the fields of mathematics and natural sciences is an important prerequisite here. Since the number of children from non-German speaking families, for whom educational success is important, is also increasing at the same time, we see the school system as a major challenge. The child has already fallen a little into the well.

What factors make it difficult to accurately calculate the teacher gap?

First, we are dealing with two main forms of uncertainty when it comes to teacher inventories. One relates to the issue of retirement and retirement: How long will teachers stay with us? At least there has been a positive development here in recent years. The other element of uncertainty relates to the number of teachers who are going part-time or taking time off for family reasons. Of course, there are also doubts among the younger generation: what is the interest in the teaching profession – what subjects are especially popular? There are also doubts when it comes to ordering. Since Corona, for example, interest in the Abitur ship appears to have increased again after a period of stagnation. As academic education increases, we will then need more teachers in the higher grades. In addition, we have seen in the past few weeks and months that many children and young people from Ukraine have come to us. Something like this is unexpected.

Why did you do your calculations? There are already two this year on this topic, one from the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK), and one from recognized educational researcher Klaus Klemm on behalf of the Association for Education and Training (VBE).

Wido Geis-Thöne deals with the topics of education, migration and innovation for the Institute of German Economics (IW Köln).

Wido Geis-Thöne deals with the topics of education, migration and innovation for the Institute of German Economics (IW Köln).

Photo: IW Kowloon

Since school education is becoming increasingly important to Germany’s social and economic development, we have been interested in the topic for some time.

What weaknesses do you see in your KMK account?

The account is incredibly opaque. It is based on figures from individual ministries of education, which were collected by KMK only. Especially when it comes to the numbers given to teachers who move higher, one has a strong feeling that they are very optimistic. In some federal states, for example, you can see that the same value is always given to new hires, even though the number of high school graduates has changed dramatically during this time. I expect the Education Ministers’ Conference to compute different scenarios so you can feel what might happen in the worst case scenario. The Federal Statistical Office does something similar when it comes to population forecasts.

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