Education rides out the recession above private sector roles


New data shows that education has been one of the top most recession-proof careers in the UK over the past decade.

The analysis by Randstad Education shows that education was ranked the fifth most recession-proof occupation. The total wage bill for full-time teaching and educational employees has climbed 14% in real terms from £35.9bn in 2002 to £40.8bn in 2014.

Jobs in education have proved more resilient than professions like accountancy, engineering, policing and management consultancy through the dark days of the financial crisis – and this is due to an overall increase in the number of full-time education employees, as opposed to pay cheques.

In particular, this has been driven by the substantial rise in non-teaching staff and support staff employed in the education sector.

Over the past decade, the number of teaching assistants in state schools has jumped 42%, whereas there has only been a 4.4% increase in qualified teachers over the same period.

This means that the proportion of staff employed in schools that are full-time teachers has dropped from 59% in 2005 to 46% in 2014, as the non-teaching segment of the workforce expands.

Despite a teacher pay freeze for the first three years of the Coalition Government, followed by just a one per cent rise after this, when taken as a whole education jobs have fared better than average overall.

The UK’s aggregate pay bill for full-time staff across the education sector has dropped in real terms by just 3% from £653.8bn in 2002 to £634.1bn in 2014.

Due to the rise in opportunities for non-teaching roles, jobs in education have also grown to represent 6.4% of the total wage bill for all UK full time employees, up from 5.5% in 2002.

The education workforce has weathered recessionary pressures and increased by 220,000 employees between 2002 and 2014.

Overall, the public purse afforded 220,000 more full-time education jobs between 2002 and 2014 – the second highest workforce increase, behind only the technology industry (which added 360,000 to its workforce over the same 12 years).

But while education may have weathered the recession better than other sectors in terms of headcount, the flipside of the coin is that this proliferation of non-teaching staff in school has held back teachers’ pay. Real wages in education have dipped by 9.8%, taking the average salary to £37,976.

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