UK faces shortfall of teachers


The UK faces a shortfall of 128,000 teachers by 2050 due to skills shortages, an ageing workforce and restrictive migration policy, increasing the demand for experienced supply teachers.

The analysis by specialist recruiter, Randstad Education, forecast the workforce shortfall across key professions and found the education sector is likely to suffer the most. Teaching staff represented 4% of the UK workforce in 2008, assuming this proportion remains constant, by 2050, the UK will have a deficit of 127,500 teachers.

Jenny Rollinson, managing director of Randstad Education, said: “The Government has explored a number of different approaches to increasing quality teacher numbers from schemes to attract people from the private sector, to encouraging mum returners and early retirers back to the profession. Unfortunately, whilst these initiatives make some difference they can’t possibly combat the shortfall we are facing.

"There has been a temptation in previous years to supplement qualified teaching staff with unqualified teaching assistants. This is not a trend that can continue if we want to ensure our classrooms have the very best people inspiring and leading our children to great things.”

Meanwhile, concerns over the smaller number of new graduate teachers to fill some roles and the increasing numbers of teachers quitting the profession have increased demand for experienced supply teachers, according to employment provider, Giant.

Department of Education figures from December 2012 showed that 47,700 teachers left their jobs in 2010-2011, up 19% from the 40,070 that left their jobs the year before.

Supply teachers are also reporting shorter gaps between assignments, with 86% of supply teachers reporting waits of less than a month between roles, up from 79% in 2011.

Better pay is becoming an increasingly important factor in teachers’ decisions to move from permanent roles to temporary ones. 14% of supply teachers say pay was the most attractive aspect of temporary work, up from 10% a year ago.

The most popular reason for choosing to become a supply teacher – ‘lifestyle’ – slipped from being the top choice of 56% of supply teachers in 2011to 47% in 2012.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director of Giant, said: “With a drop in the number of new graduates entering parts of the teaching profession as well as an increase in existing permanent staff leaving the profession, a teacher shortage is being created.”

“This shortage means plenty of opportunities have arisen for supply teachers over the last year, and these opportunities will continue in 2013. Schools are increasingly in need of experienced supply teachers to plug staffing gaps, which is pushing teachers’ daily pay rates up.

“Many teachers now see supply work as a great way to increase their income as well as improve their lifestyle, with over a quarter of supply teachers we questioned rating financial benefits as the biggest advantage when it comes to supply work.”

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