The Future for the Next Generation of Teachers

Report: Problems with the future of the teaching profession are further magnified by the departure of experienced teachers

Every year, 1,500 teachers leave Estonian schools either temporarily or permanently, and their resignation constitutes a much more pressing problem than the lack of new teachers coming in. The resignation of one full-time experienced teacher means at least EUR 10,000 in extra costs for the school, shows the fresh brief report of the Foresight Centre “Resignation of teachers”.

Foresight Centre Expert Eneli Kindsiko said that so far, the lack of new teachers coming in had been pinpointed as the main problem in the teaching profession; and yet, theresignation of the existing teachers actually caused much greater concern. “The number of teachers resigning in Estonia varies yearly between 1,200 and 1,900, which constitutes 8–12% of all our teachers each year. The experienced teachers at the top of their careers form one third of those leaving,” Kindsiko highlighted and pointed out that those numbers also reflected the increase of short-term employment contracts in Estonian schools. 

During the 2021/22 school year, 1,704 teachers resigned fromEstonia’s general education schools temporarily or conclusively; 24% of them were 60 years old or over. This means that the bulk of those leaving, i.e. the overwhelming 76%, are teachers of active working age. A third of those leaving are between the ages of 40 and 59, or experienced teachers at the apex of their careers.

In its brief report, the Foresight Centre estimates that considering the minimum pay of teachers, a resignation of a full-time experienced teacher means at least EUR 10,000 in extra expenses for the school. This calculation includes the cost of substitution – the lower burden of new employees, the higher salary they request, or covering the workload of the resigned teacher with the help of several existing ones, which may lead to increased workload and burnout for the latter.

The Estonian Education Personnel Union has studied the issue and discovered that 58% of Estonia’s teachers have considered resigning and 92% have experienced burnout. Studies in Estonia and abroad confirm that male teachers are more likely to resign than their female colleagues. One in five resigned teachers was male (19%). Teachers of the Estonian language, maths, and English show higher resignation rates. 

Other studies around the world also indicate that plans toresign have multiplied after the years of the pandemic especially among teachers in mid-career, meaning teachers with years of experience under their belts. “But we do see that in the countries where teachers’ salaries are higher, the resignation rate is lower,” Kindsiko added. 

The brief report “Resignation of teachers” is part of the Foresight Centre research into “The future of the teaching profession”. The aim of the Foresight Centre’s research into “The future of the teaching profession” is to develop scenarios on the need for teachers and the future of the teaching profession until 2040 on the basis of global and national trends.

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