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OECD education report: Why Germany suffers from a shortage of teachers


Money alone does not make the teaching profession attractive, as a new study by the OECD shows. Education researcher Andreas Schleicher explains where Germany is ahead of other countries - and where it needs to catch up.

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students in class

Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth / picture alliance / dpa

How does Germany's education system fare in an international comparison?

What is going better or worse in day care centers, schools and universities than in other countries?

The “Education at a Glance 2022” report, which was presented this Tuesday, provides answers to these questions.

As every year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) compared the education systems of 45 industrialized nations.

Key Findings:

  • In the field of day-care centers, Germany has written a downright success story in recent years.

  • When it comes to training and studying, the debate about alleged over-academicization is misleading.

  • Germany suffers from an acute shortage of teachers, but pays top salaries in an international comparison.

Schools: Good salary, bad working conditions

Those who teach at secondary level 1, i.e. usually in grades 5 to 10, receive the second highest salaries in Germany in an OECD comparison.

Only Luxembourg pays more.

At the same time, German teachers have to teach less on average.

Their workload is 641 hours per year, the OECD average is 711 hours.

A top salary for comparatively little work: why is the shortage of staff in schools in Germany so great?

Pay alone is not decisive for the attractiveness of the teaching profession, explains OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher.

In Finland, for example, teacher salaries are significantly lower.

However, there are far more applicants than vacancies.

Everyday work at the school is organized differently than in Germany.

In an international comparison, structures in which teachers have "sufficient time for the individual support of children beyond the classroom" have proven themselves.

According to Schleicher, when teachers are asked why they chose their profession, most of them answer that they want to support children and help them advance.

There is often not enough room for that in the local system.

Many teachers would also value teamwork instead of »standing in the classroom as lone fighters«.

Structures must therefore be designed in such a way that they promote this cooperation and also offer career opportunities.

However, the German school system offers few opportunities for advancement: "Neither qualifications nor performance have a significant impact on pay."

If you want to become a regular teacher in Germany, you need staying power.

Studies and legal clerkship often last seven years in total.

In many other countries, Schleicher explains, the training is shorter and is largely transferred to schools at an early stage.

In this way, prospective teachers could find out more quickly: "Is that really my job?" And they would also have to pass the practical test before others.

The OECD director recommends that Germany should build on its successes in dual training for other professions.

The teachers are just beginning to integrate more practical elements into their training, »but other countries are way ahead of us«.

Universities: "No evidence" for "over-academicization"

Germany also lags behind when it comes to the proportion of young people who decide to study at a technical academy, technical college or university (so-called tertiary education).

The OECD Director of Education emphasized that there were "no indications" of "over-academicization," which critics have repeatedly complained about.

While the proportion of 25-34 year-olds with a tertiary degree has increased since the turn of the millennium to 36 percent in 2021, it remains well below the OECD average of 48 percent.

Across the OECD, the proportion of young people with a comparatively high level of education has also increased significantly more.

The low tertiary completion rate in Germany is partly due to the strong vocational training system, which opens up more career opportunities than the systems of many other OECD countries.

However, workers with this advanced degree would still have a “significant wage advantage” over others.

In Germany, full-time employees with a bachelor's degree or equivalent professional qualification earn 67 percent more than employees who have only completed their Abitur or attended a vocational school.

Significant income advantages and a much lower risk of becoming unemployed are clear indications »that an investment in education in Germany is worthwhile – more than ever before«, says Schleicher.

There are also “no signs that the labor market for higher qualifications is saturated.

There is therefore no contradiction at all between a solid system of vocational training and a further expansion of the academic offerings.«

Schleicher is indirectly referring to demands for an "educational turnaround", for example more young people should learn a trade.

"Companies are desperately looking for trainees," says the educational researcher, but "this is not served by appeals for training paths for the children of other parents, but only by improving earning and career opportunities with professional qualifications."

more on the subject

  • Over-academicization: descent through education A column by Nikolaus Blome

  • Because there is a lack of trainees: the trade association calls for an »educational turnaround« against a shortage of skilled workers

  • Education in Germany: unfair from the startA commentary by Silke Fokken

  • Summary of family policy: the daycare mothers by Susmita Arp, Jan Friedmann and Miriam Olbrisch

A focus must be placed on the approximately 1.5 million young adults who, according to the study, have a particularly difficult time on the German job market.

They have neither completed vocational training nor a high school diploma.

Their share was 14 percent last year.

It has even risen by one percentage point since 2011, while the OECD countries have managed to reduce the share from 19 to 14 percent on average.

In the group of 15 to 19-year-olds, the educational researchers also recorded a slightly negative development: the proportion of those who attended an educational institution had fallen from 90 to 87 percent since 2013.

On average, however, the OECD share increased by one percentage point.

Schleicher also finds this »unsatisfactory« from the point of view of equal opportunities, »because educational advancement from educationally disadvantaged milieus in Germany continues to be very difficult.«

Day care centers: "Enormously successfully expanded"

On the other hand, Germany has caught up a lot in the area of ​​early childhood education.

According to Schleicher, the daycare system has been "extended with enormous success".

39 percent of children under the age of three now attend a day-care center.

That is well above the OECD average of 27 percent.

The main expansion took place between 2005 and 2015.

During this period, the supervision rate rose by 20 percentage points and thus “more than in any other country”.

Recently, however, only two percentage points have been added.

For those over the age of three, the rate has even fallen by two percentage points in recent years.

Here, Germany must now "go the last kilometer and bring in those who will benefit most from it," said Schleicher.

In other words, children from socially disadvantaged families.

Early daycare attendance is considered an important tool to mitigate unequal educational opportunities.

In this context, the OECD researcher finds it remarkable that in Germany – unlike in many other countries – a course of study usually does not cost any fees, while parental contributions are often due for attending a day-care center.

"While most countries charge tuition fees from well-earned educational winners, in Germany the youngest are still asked to pay," said Schleicher.

"These are always exactly those for whom the disadvantages of an educationally disadvantaged household can best be compensated for by preschool."

Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2022-10-04

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