The Future for the Next Generation of Teachers

The Foresight Centre has created a calculator for estimating the need for teachers

There are several variables that affect the future need for teachers in schools in Estonia, from the number of pupils to the use of education technology. To understand the effect that the various factors have, the Foresight Centre has created a calculator for estimating the need for teachers, which can be found on its website.

Head of research at the Foresight Centre Uku Varblane noted that it is hard to calculate the effect of the different variables because those effects do not occur separately in isolation in the real world. “This is why we have created the calculator, as it allows different combinations of the factors that affect the need for teachers to be tested and the indirect impact of changes to the supply and demand for teachers to be estimated”, he explained.

Simulations made using the calculator were used by the Foresight Centre for its latest short report on scenarios for the need for teachers out to 2040, which found that if current trends continue, the shortage of teachers will evaporate by 2037 because of the number of pupils falling. “It should be remembered though that the number of pupils is not falling equally across Estonia as that decline varies between regions, and so the shortage of teachers could last much longer in some places”, noted Varblane.

The need for teachers may be increased if the number of school-age children declines more slowly than the Eurostat population forecast assumes, if there is more immigration for example. The need for teachers will also be boosted if there is an increase in the share of pupils with special educational needs, especially those needing intensive and specialised support. The successful introduction of educational technology, or learning in general becoming more efficient could however have the opposite effect on the need for teachers. The calculator can also consider the supply of teachers and make assumptions about how many teachers will enter the labour market and how many will leave it.

The demand for teachers, which is the number of teaching positions that need to be filled, will fall from the current 15,000 to around 12,000 by 2040 if current trends continue. That demand could also fall as far as 10,000 if educational technology allows teachers to free up 20% of their working time, as has been estimated by the consulting firm McKinsey. Greater efficiency could reduce the number of teaching positions needed even further if the number of pupils per teacher were raised from its current 11 to 14, which would be the same as in Slovenia and Romania and a little more than in Sweden and Finland.

The calculator covers Estonia as a whole and does not consider the specific features of different regions, or the different needs in future for subject teachers at different school levels. The impact of the changes is shown for each year out to 2040.

The calculator of the need for teachers is based on the simulations developed for the Foresight Centre’s research stream into the future for the next generation of teachers. The research stream considers the trend so far and various possible directions that developments could take in the future, and looks at the fundamental political choices in questions about the future for the next generation of teachers. It highlights the central uncertainties and key factors on which the next generation of teachers in Estonia up to 2040 will depend.

The calculator of the need for teachers from the Foresight Centre can be found in Estonian on the Centre’s website at:

The Foresight Centre report on scenarios for the need for teachers out to 2040 can be found in Estonian at:

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