OECD calls for new approach to tackle teacher shortage


13/03/2012 - With many countries facing shortages of qualified teachers in key subjects, governments need to make the profession more attractive to talented graduates, according to a new OECD report.


Preparing teachers and developing school leaders for the 21st century says that one in five school principals reported that a lack of qualified maths or science teachers was handicapping their students’ learning. In Turkey, for instance, eight out of ten schools have staff shortages in key subjects, and over three out of ten in Luxembourg, Germany, Shanghai-China, and the Netherlands.


Teachers’ salaries have risen in real terms over the past decade in virtually all OECD countries, says the report. But a teacher with 15 years’ experience earns an average of only 80% of the full-time earnings of a 25-64 year-old with tertiary qualifications, even if he or she often has more job security and vacation time.


In addition to improving pay, more innovative ways to attract and develop the best teachers are needed to raise the status, professional autonomy and career opportunities. The report compares the different ways countries are tackling this challenge.


Singapore, for example, recruits from among the top one-third of the secondary school graduating class and offers trainee teachers a monthly stipend that is competitive with the monthly salary for new graduates in other sectors. In return, they must commit to three years of teaching. Annual assessments, a rigorous selection process for school principals and an emphasis on professional development have helped make the profession more attractive and improved results.


Finland has raised the social status of teachers to a higher level than most other professions. Teachers are given considerable autonomy. In 2010, over 6,600 applicants competed for 660 openings in primary school preparation programs.


Improving the skills of teachers throughout their career is key, says the report, in order to ensure they can meet the challenges of increasingly diverse classrooms and personalised teaching methods.


But despite almost 90% of teachers having taken part in some form of professional development, some 55% of them said they wanted more. And in most countries, except for Korea, Mexico and Turkey, one in five new teachers had never had any feedback or appraisal of their work.


>> Download the report

>> For further information, journalists can contact Andreas Schleicher, OECD Deputy Director of Education or Spencer Wilson of the OECD’s Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 81 18)


>> A webinar with Andreas Schleicher, OECD Deputy Director of Education, to launch the report is taking place at the 2nd International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York at 15.00 CET on Wednesday 14 March 2012. To register, visit


>> More information on the Summit is available at


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