The reputation of the teaching profession increasingly depends on the management culture in schools
Teachers in Estonia prefer to work in schools with a good management culture, and salary is not the only deciding factor. According to the recently published brief report of the Foresight Centre “The Reputation of the Teaching Profession in Estonia and Its Development Prospects”, the quality of management and a healthy working culture in schools have a key role in shaping the reputation of the teaching profession.
In Estonia, teaching has been the first career choice for 69% of female teachers and for only 41% of male teachers. Compared with other European Union countries, the indicator for men is one of the lowest. “A teacher who feels greater calling towards the teaching profession is better able to adapt to how the teaching profession and the roles associated with it change over time. Although the reputation of the teaching profession is average in Estonia when compared to other European countries, it should be taken into account that the statistics date from 2018 when the teachers’ salary was significantly lower than it is today,” explained Eneli Kindsiko, Expert of the Foresight Centre.
While in 2018 the minimum salary of teachers was 1150 euro, this year it is as high as 1749 euro. “The increase in teachers’ salary in recent years has begun to boost the reputation of the profession again. For example, the average salary of a teacher now forms 82% of the average salary of a specialist with a Master’s degree,” Kindsiko added.
Salary is an important, but not the most important factor in shaping the reputation of the teaching profession.
In its brief report, the Foresight Centre points out that, today, employees with teacher qualifications have a greater number of more attractive alternatives in the labour market than they used to have a few decades ago. Within the context of the labour market, the type of working environment and management culture other organisations are offering plays a more important role. “Schools as employers need to consider to what extent they are able to compete with other employers and to ensure a modern working environment,” Kindsiko underlined. In her opinion, the mutual relations between teachers, as well as the relations between the management and teachers, that is, the working atmosphere in schools, are becoming increasingly decisive.
The Foresight Centre highlights job security, or low dependence on the cycles of the economy, as one of the advantages of the teaching profession. The crises of recent years have also contributed to increasing the attractiveness of the teaching profession.
While the reputation of the teaching profession is relatively low among school pupils, it is more valued among older age groups. In Estonia, 16% of secondary school pupils can see themselves working as teachers, while the rate is 41% among university students and 30% among people aged 35–50.
The higher reputation of the teaching profession among older people is also connected with the growing trend of making a career turn, with more and more people taking up the teaching profession later in life. In recent years, the average age of a beginning teacher has been 35 years.