Still major challenges to meet teacher shortages

In the Swedish National Agency for Education’s forecast for the years 2016-2031, submitted to the Government, UKÄ has contributed to an analysis: We have looked at three different scenarios for the number of beginners in teacher training. Regardless of the scenario, we find that the most likely scenario is that the shortage of teachers will increase, says Fredrik Svensson.

Fredrik Svensson, analyst at the Swedish Higher Education Authority

Fredrik Svensson, analyst at the Swedish Higher Education Authority

The analysis's main scenario shows that 55 per cent more beginners are required in teacher education programmes to reach the goal of qualified teachers that the National Agency for Education believes is optimal.

The Government has invested in the expansion of teacher education and pre-school education and more ways into these professions, but the forecasts show that teacher education cannot solve the shortage. Other efforts and cooperation between different actors are needed.

The number of beginners is one part of solving teacher shortages, but it must be complemented with other measures. More students who graduate from teacher education programmes and, for example, efforts to get qualified people who left teaching to return to it again could contribute to a solution.

The Swedish National Agency for Education’s report concludes that teacher education programmes would have to be significantly larger than today in order to meet the future needs of qualified teachers. Assuming that the school's current share of qualified teachers will be the same as today, teacher education would have to be significantly larger.

Three scenarios - the number of beginners in teacher education

In the Swedish Agency for Education's report, UKÄ has contributed with analysis of the annual need of beginners in teacher education based on three scenarios.

Scenario 1: Beginner need according to the main scenario

This scenario assumes that the teacher need in the school system will be fully covered by qualified teachers. The National Agency for Education believes this is the main scenario. This shows that, on condition that the graduation rates remain at current levels, the number of beginners should be an average of 23,700 per year. Thus, the number of beginners would have to be 55 percent or 8,500 more per year compared with the estimated number of beginners of 15,300 per year.

Scenario 2: Beginner need if the graduation rate is increased by ten percentage points

Graduation rates in teacher education are today low compared to many other higher education programmes. If the graduation rate for all teacher education programmes would be ten percentage points higher than the current level, approximately 22,500 beginner students would be needed to achieve balance in 2031. This means that with a higher graduation rate, the number of beginners would have to be 48 per cent more than the calculated number of beginners during the forecast period.

Scenario 3: Beginner need for the future assumed to be the same as today

In 2016, on average, approximately 9 per cent of the teachers were temporary employees who lacked an educational college degree. If this proportion persists during the forecast period and that we even in the future will permit that part of the employees lack an educational college degree, the teacher need would be somewhat smaller and thus the need for examination.

The future need is in this alternative assumed to be partly covered by other employees without teacher education. According to this scenario, 20,900 students would need to start teacher training every academic year, so that the competence in school does not gradually deteriorate.

The report concludes that the level of competence in school is likely to decrease during the forecast period.