Chapter 3. How can we ensure a balanced teacher workforce?

This chapter discusses the challenges of ensuring a balanced teacher workforce focussing on the way these relate to initial teacher preparation (ITP). It first gives a short overview of the different facets of teacher supply and demand such as teacher shortages, oversupply, demographic characteristics, attrition and teacher diversity. The second section highlights three ITP-related strategies that can help addressing this challenge: using ITP data in forecasting workforce needs, raising the status of teacher education through building a solid knowledge base for teachers and ensuring quality teacher education, and attracting, selecting and hiring candidates who are likely to be committed to improving their professional competences throughout their career. Finally, the third section of the chapter illustrates how policy makers, teacher education institutions and schools can apply these strategies concretely in their practice and through introducing processes.


The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

This section gives a short overview of some of the facets of ensuring a balanced teacher workforce and focuses on how initial teacher preparation (ITP) in particular can contribute to addressing it. Ensuring and sustaining a balanced workforce, i.e. the right amount of high quality teachers in a well-distributed way across the system, is a challenge that relates to the education system as a whole. It is discussed in its complexity, including also educational staff other than teachers, in the upcoming OECD report on human resources (OECD, 2018[1]).

The delicate balance of teacher supply and demand is linked to ITP policies such as attracting and selecting candidates in initial teacher education (ITE), and certifying and hiring teachers in various ways:

  • The quality and accessibility of ITP can influence future teacher supply. Attracting a sufficient number of candidates in teacher education is necessary for future supply.

  • Teacher demand and supply imbalances can influence ITP provision. Teacher shortages can lead to creating faster tracks, lowering entry and qualification requirements or introducing alternative routes to teaching.

Establishing and sustaining a quality teaching workforce involves striking the right balance between supply and demand. Many countries around the world experience problems of teacher shortages, oversupply and unbalanced distribution. Almost 30% of students across the OECD study in schools where instruction is hindered by a lack of teaching staff as reported by principals, and the average is similar in the 35 partner countries/economies that participated in the 2015 PISA cycle (OECD, 2016[2]). In addition, around one out of five students is in a school where the principal reported to have inadequate or poorly qualified teaching staff (OECD, 2016[2]). Although the shortage trend in some subjects seems to be improving in many countries based on principal reports (OECD, 2018[3]), the supply and demand issue is in fact much more complex.

3.1. Why is this a challenge?

3.1.1. Striking the balance between supply and demand

An imbalance of teacher supply and demand can occur due to various reasons. A recent report by the European Commission, for example, identifies seven related challenges based on data collected from countries in the European Union (see Figure 3.1). As shown in the figure, the majority of these countries face the challenge of shortages in some subjects, in some geographical areas and ageing teacher population, while about half of them also experience oversupply. Several of the participating countries in the study, like Australia or the US, suffer from oversupply in specific areas and an undersupply in others. In Korea, ITE programmes in low demand areas, such as primary education, attract many candidates creating a pool of employable teachers who either cannot find a job or who teach outside their subject area.

Although to a lesser extent, high leaving rates from the profession, shortage of students enrolling in ITE and high drop-out rates from ITE have also been reported as challenges in some European countries (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[4]), and were noted in some countries participating in the ITP study such as Norway.

Figure 3.1. Main challenges in teacher supply and demand in primary and general secondary education (ISCED 1-3), 2016-2017, selected European countries
Figure 3.1. Main challenges in teacher supply and demand in primary and general secondary education (ISCED 1-3), 2016-2017, selected European countries

Source: European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2018, p. 25[4]), Teaching Careers in Europe: Access, Progression and Support, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

This section shortly discusses five of the recurrent supply-demand issues and their relevance in the countries participating in the ITP study: teacher shortages, oversupply, demographic characteristics, attrition and teacher diversity.

Teacher shortages

Certain geographical areas suffer more of teacher shortages (understood here as a lack of teachers in terms of numbers), either due to their remoteness or due to other economic, social or cultural factors such as higher cost of living or higher concentration of disadvantaged families (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[4]). In 36 countries and economies, students in advantaged schools have greater access to education staff than do disadvantaged students (OECD, 2016[5]). Among countries participating in the ITP study, staffing remote areas is a pronounced challenge in Australia. Reduced access to educational facilities and personal amenities, a greater sense of social isolation and sometimes less satisfactory living arrangements contribute to the challenge to staff positions in rural, remote and low socio-economic status schools in Australia (TEMAG, 2014[6]). Similarly, Korea reported difficulty in attracting high quality candidates in remote areas, whereas there is an oversupply and strong competition in metropolitan cities. The distribution of experienced versus beginning teachers is also unbalanced, and, in many countries, challenging schools struggle to recruit more experienced teachers. In the majority of countries participating in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), experienced teachers tend to teach in schools that have smaller proportions of students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, with special needs, or whose first language is different from the language of instruction (OECD, 2014[7]; OECD, 2018[3]).

Moreover, some subject positions are harder to staff than others. The most reported shortages concern teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in the European Union (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[4]). Similarly, in the United States mathematics and science teachers have been the most in demand in recent years, followed by foreign language and special education teachers (Sutcher, Darling-Hammond and Carver-Thomas, 2016[8]; NCES, 2015[9]). Among countries taking part in the ITP study, Norway reported a mismatch between teacher’s subject specialisation and the school’s needs, especially in small schools.


The unbalanced distribution of teachers leads not only to shortages but also to oversupply in certain geographical and subject areas (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[4]). In many countries, these two phenomena co-exist (e.g. Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Lithuania), while some countries, such as Poland, Portugal and Slovenia, need mostly to tackle the challenge of oversupply (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[4]). Oversupply can imply difficulty for newly qualified teachers in finding placement after graduation, which in turn can negatively affect the view of teaching as a career. An unbalanced distribution of teachers across school boards was reported in the Netherlands in the ITP review, where some school boards attract stronger teacher candidates by offering better practicum, induction, professional development and general career opportunities, while others, especially smaller school boards and/or individual schools may not be able to offer the same opportunities. This may partly be related to inequities across schools and the effects of a decentralised teacher recruitment process.

Demographic characteristics

The demographic characteristics of the teaching workforce are relevant to predict future supply and demand. Many countries across the OECD have an ageing teaching workforce. On average, 35% of lower secondary teachers are aged 50 or more. In the reviewed countries, this proportion is particularly high in the Netherlands (40%), whereas it is slightly lower than the OECD average in Japan (31%), Korea (28%) and the US (29%) (see Figure 3.2). The general demographic characteristics of a country, in particular, the changing size of populations at different levels of education, also influence future teacher demands.

Figure 3.2. Age distribution of teachers
Percentage of lower secondary teachers in public and private institutions by age group, based on head counts (2016)
Figure 3.2. Age distribution of teachers


1. Upper secondary includes programmes from lower secondary vocational and post-secondary non-tertiary education.

2. For Israel, private institutions are included for all levels except for pre-primary and upper secondary levels.

3. Upper secondary includes post-secondary non-tertiary education.

4. Upper secondary includes short-cycle tertiary.

Source: OECD/UIS/Eurostat (2018). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (


The rate of attrition within the profession is also high in education systems around the world. Teachers leaving the profession during the first five years have reached a proportion of close to 40% in many countries and jurisdictions including in Canada, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Gallant and Riley, 2014[10]), and some report high rates from other countries (Köber, Risberg and Texmon, 2005[11]; Hong, 2010[12]). In the ITP review only the Netherlands reported national data on attrition, where the rate in the 5 first years of teaching is the highest in secondary vocational education (35%), followed by general secondary education (27%) and primary education (15%) (Brouwer et al., 2016[13]).

While most studies and policy papers emphasise the negative impact of teacher attrition (European Union, 2013[14]; OECD, 2005[15]), some also point to the scarcity and controversial nature of data (Paniagua and Sánchez-Martí, 2018[16]; Holme et al., 2017[17]). Paniagua and Sánchez-Martí (2018[16]) question the perceived magnitude and often narrow interpretations of teachers leaving the profession by illustrating the multifaceted nature of the phenomenon. For example, little attention is paid to second-career teachers who come in the profession, data is scarce on the number of teachers only temporarily leaving the profession, and the reasons behind and impact of early career teachers’ decision to leave the profession is also not yet well-understood (Paniagua and Sánchez-Martí, 2018[16]; Kelchtermans, 2017[18]). Moreover, if effective teachers are less likely to leave than less effective teachers, then high levels of teacher attrition may improve rather than decrease the overall quality of the teaching workforce (Guarino, Santibañez and Daley, 2006[19]), even though attrition is generally costly to education systems. To ensure a good balance of supply and demand, it would be crucial to better understand the attrition phenomenon, including having more solid and holistic data, and exploring the drivers of attrition.

Teacher diversity

In many OECD countries, the increasingly diverse student population does not match with a teacher workforce that is largely homogeneous (Nusche, 2009[20]). This is particularly important given the growing literature on the positive effect of same-race teachers on ethnic-minority students in terms of performance, role-modelling, motivation and the overall educational experience of not only ethnic minority students, but of low-income students of both sexes (Gershenson et al., 2017[21]).

Research suggest a wide range of barriers to the diversity of the teaching workforce at every stage of the teaching pathway, and thus a cumulative effect exists explaining the important underrepresentation of teachers from ethnic or migrant communities (Meierkord, Donlevy and Rajania, 2016[22]). In particular, barriers accessing ITE include:

  • lower academic achievement and negative school experiences

  • language barriers

  • lack of financial resources

  • lack of confidence to access the teaching careers

  • lack of recognition of degrees obtained outside the host country.

For example, traditional certification methods can have undesirable effects on the diversity of the teaching profession. In the United States, for example, some theory-based assessments (e.g. PRAXIS) may unintentionally exclude teachers of colour, who may not have received the same educational opportunities as other candidates. Contexts of high competition, such as in Korea, or strict criteria to enter and complete ITE programmes, such as the exams introduced in primary ITE in the Netherlands, can work against the diversity of teacher profiles and lead to the exclusion of potential teacher candidates.

3.1.2. Making the teaching profession more attractive

Research has repeatedly shown that the quantity and the quality of teachers are strongly interconnected (OECD, 2005[23]). As mentioned above, policy responses to shortages include lowering qualification requirements, but also assigning teachers to teach in subject areas in which they are not fully qualified, increasing teaching hours or class sizes (OECD, 2005[23]). Such quick solutions however have inevitable implications on the quality of teaching and learning (OECD, 2005[23]).

Ensuring the adequate number of qualified teachers across the schools system is inherently linked to the attractiveness of the profession. Competitive salaries, job security, holiday entitlements and opportunities for career progression certainly make a profession more attractive. Studies often show that teachers are highly motivated by the intrinsic benefits of teaching such as working with children, helping them develop and making a contribution to society, and suggest that extrinsic factors (such as job stability, pay or working hours) are less important (OECD, 2018[3]; OECD, 2005[23]). However, studies that investigate graduates’ career choices have also demonstrated that the relative salaries and social status of graduate occupations do play a role in their choices, suggesting that higher teachers’ salaries and status might result in more graduates considering a teaching career (e.g. (OECD, 2018[3]; Dolton, 2006[24]).

Although teachers’ salaries show an increasing trend since 2013 on average in OECD countries (OECD, 2018[25]), teaching is often still not a financially attractive profession. Teachers at the lower secondary level earn almost 10% less on average across the OECD than their tertiary-educated counterparts, and in some countries, the difference is 30% or even more (OECD, 2018[25]). Among countries in the ITP study, the differences are most marked in the United States (35%) and Norway (25%), whereas in Australia and the Netherlands teachers earn only slightly less (7% and 8% respectively) than other tertiary educated workers (OECD, 2018[25]). The salary scales between starting and maximum salaries are also relatively flat in a number of countries, which adds to the weak financial incentives to retain teachers as they progress in their career (OECD, 2018[25]). Salary scales are the flattest in Australia and Norway among countries participating in the ITP study (Figure 3.3). In Norway, a lack of widely available and fully developed career paths for teachers was identified as a potential detractor from the profession.

Figure 3.3. Lower secondary teachers’ statutory salaries at different points in teachers' careers (2017)
Annual statutory salaries of teachers in public institutions, in equivalent USD converted using PPPs
Figure 3.3. Lower secondary teachers’ statutory salaries at different points in teachers' careers (2017)


1. Actual base salaries.

2. Salaries at top of scale and most prevalent qualifications, instead of maximum qualifications.

Source: OECD (2018[25]), Education at a Glance 2018: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris.

It is nevertheless important to highlight that the evidence linking higher salaries to greater average quality or effectiveness of teachers is mixed. While some studies showed positive relationships between teacher salaries and student achievement (Dolton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez, 2011[26]), others did not confirm this. For example, changes in teachers’ statutory salaries were weakly related to learning trends in science based on PISA data (OECD, 2018[3]). It is therefore also crucial for policy makers to emphasise other aspects of job quality in order to promote teaching as a career (OECD, 2018[3]). Working conditions, such as workload or class size, as well as other qualitative aspects, such as autonomy and intellectual challenge, seem to play an even more important role, as some studies suggest (OECD, 2018[3]; Sahlberg, 2010[27]).

The attractiveness of the profession is also reflected in how teachers perceive their jobs and profession, the ease of entry into the profession and the rigour of initial teacher education programmes. Data from TALIS (OECD, 2014[7]) reveals that while most teachers are satisfied with their jobs (on average 91% in participating countries), in many countries, only a small proportion (on average 31%) feels that teaching is a valued profession. In most countries in the ITP study this proportion is close to the OECD average with 39% in Australia, 28% in Japan, 40% in the Netherlands, 31% in Norway and 34% in the United States (OECD, 2014[7]). On the other hand, teaching is perceived as a highly valued profession by two thirds of teachers in Korea (OECD, 2014[7]). Understanding the factors that attract people into teaching and motivate teachers to persist in the profession is essential to guide policy initiatives at the pre-service and in-service levels to reduce attrition and maintain a high-quality teaching workforce (see Box 3.1 for some of the factors identified in the ITP reviews).

Box 3.1. Attractiveness of the teaching profession as a key ITP challenge – examples from countries

High work load, increasing responsibilities and “invisible tasks”

The demands on both new and experienced teachers are ever growing in the face of new technologies, increased administrative tasks, new social challenges in schools (e.g. truancy, bullying, etc.) and parents’ expectations. As a result, teachers and schools report having less teaching time due to more time spent on tasks not directly related to teaching. Such challenges were noted in Norway, Japan and Korea.

Waves of reforms

In some countries, such as Japan, there have been many reforms targeting teachers and their work in recent years. Fatigue from constant changes in teachers’ work and the number of changes could be a threat to teachers’ happiness.

Negative media coverage and public opinion

In some countries, such as Australia and Norway, media shows a negative image of the profession or focuses on continued critique of teacher education. This risks discouraging young people from going into teacher education and high quality teacher candidates from entering the profession.

Source: OECD Initial Teacher Preparation Study, Country SWOT Analyses, TeacherReady! platform

3.2. What strategies can address the challenge?

3.2.1. Using diversified longitudinal ITP data in actively forecasting workforce needs

As demonstrated above, forecasting workforce needs involve a number of factors. While identifying the relevant data sources is contingent on the country context, a methodological approach that takes account of the complexity of this issue and combines demographical trend data with data gathered from teacher education institutions, schools and national administration is needed to understand where interventions are needed. However, while more data may help candidates make informed choices, demand and quality might not be the only factors that influence programme choice if there are programmes of lower cost or in a more favourable location that lead to jobs. For example, the review in Korea identified some students who may enter ITE with the intention of using their degree as a pathway to other fields.

A recent review of literature by Lindsay and colleagues (2016[28]) analyses US data sources relating to a number of issues such as: teacher supply trends, shortage or surplus by certification areas, school type, schools area (rural or urban), perceived barriers to hiring effective teachers, factors influencing teacher education institutions’ ability to prepare effective teachers, and expected public school enrolment trends (Lindsay et al., 2016[28]). The conceptual approach the authors propose compares aggregate estimates for teacher supply and demand components in the United States (Figure 3.4).

Figure 3.4. The components of teacher supply and demand
Figure 3.4. The components of teacher supply and demand

Source: Adapted from Lindsay et al. (2016[28]), Strategies for Estimating Teacher Supply and Demand Using Student and Teacher Data, Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation.

Better understanding likely trends in enrolment into ITE, completion and certification is an important piece in managing supply and demand. However, if we want to understand what intervention is necessary in a certain context, ITP data should not be limited to basic indicators. In particular, it needs to extend to teacher candidates’ profile to help diversify the profession, to teacher education institutions’ perceptions and experience in recruiting, developing and certifying candidates. Moreover, it should also take account of the continuum, and collect data from schools to understand their needs, attrition and so on.

Overall, the involvement of every level of the ITP system – national, regional, teacher education institutional, school – in forecasting workforce needs and steering supply and demand is key. Establishing longitudinal information systems (as discussed in Section 2.1.2 in Chapter 2) can also greatly contribute to a strategic and comprehensive collection and analysis of ITP data for managing supply and demand.

3.2.2. Raising the status of teaching and teacher education

While there are many factors contributing to the status of the teaching profession including remuneration, career paths and working conditions, ITP systems have a great potential to raising this status, in particular, through making the process of becoming a teacher attractive. This includes general attributes of professionalism such as self-governance with well-functioning professional organisations that establish and regulate standards of practice, code of conduct, certification, etc. (Guerriero and Deligiannidi, 2017[29]). Moreover, it also requires reflecting on how to make teacher education relevant for those who want to pursue a fulfilling professional career in teaching. Initial training, induction and learning growth can be strong determinants of the status of teaching (see Figure 3.5) and should thus be an inherent part of a systematic approach to raising this status.

Figure 3.5. Possible determinants of the status of the teaching profession
Figure 3.5. Possible determinants of the status of the teaching profession

Source: Adapted from Guerriero and Deligiannidi (2017[29]), The teaching profession and its knowledge base, In: Guerriero, S. (2017) Pedagogical Knowledge and the Changing Nature of the Teaching Profession, pp. 27.

One main challenge in raising the status of teacher education comes from the absence of a robust and integrated professional knowledge base – or the lack of understanding in what it entails (Guerriero, 2017[30]). This gap makes practices to remain unarticulated, isolated and difficult to transfer (Schleicher, 2018[31]). As pointed out by Révai and Guerriero (2017[32]), existing teaching practices are based on tacit knowledge that is often difficult to make explicit and visible, and on more articulated forms of knowledge that however are not always rooted in evidence-based research. Building a solid knowledge base on teaching and learning in a systematic way would be a prerequisite for providing high quality teacher education. This in turn could raise the status of teacher education and contribute to attracting candidates in the profession.

While diversified ITP pathways, such as alternative certification, lateral entries, tailored routes for second-career teachers, can resolve supply-demand issues, they carry a huge risk of diminishing the value of teacher education (Zeichner, 2014[33]). Not only it is strategic that countries implement formal regulations to safeguard the quality of graduates regardless of the path they have followed, but it is necessary to reflect on the impact that “emergency routes” to certification can have on the way teacher education is viewed among potential teacher candidates (Walsh and Jacobs, 2007[34]). Further, although experience matters in teaching, recent research has pointed to the need to consider “learning from experience” rather than “acquiring experience” as a dimension of teacher effectiveness. The focus should thus be on improving our knowledge about the conditions under which professional learning flourishes (OECD, 2018[3]; Paniagua and Sánchez-Martí, 2018[16]). The social perception that experience per se is what matters most can also underplay the key role of teacher competences and their professional knowledge.

An outstanding issue in teacher education is the capacity of teacher educators to provide teacher candidates with relevant knowledge. There is a need to conduct conceptually and methodologically more robust studies relating not only to the identity and status of teacher educators, but also to the pedagogy of teacher education (Davey, 2013[35]), such as the OECD CERI’s Teacher Knowledge Survey. This study plans to collect data on teacher educators’ knowledge base, motivational characteristics, as well as their opportunities to learn (Sonmark et al., 2017[36]). Competence standards, procedures and criteria for becoming a teacher educator need to be developed to strengthen the professionalisation of teacher educators.

3.2.3. Attracting, selecting and hiring “the right” candidates

While selective ITE entry policies can raise the status of teacher education, and consequently of teaching as a profession, there is still a need to understand which candidates are “the right” ones for teaching. Attracting high achieving candidates to teaching has been identified as a feature of high quality education systems by some international reports (Barber and Mourshed, 2007[37]; Auguste, Kihn and Miller, 2010[38]). However, actual evidence on the impact of previous academic achievement of teacher candidates on their later teaching competences is controversial (Harris and Sass, 2008[39]).

Besides knowledge of the subject content and of pedagogy, professional competences also include affective and motivational characteristics (see Figure 4.1. in Chapter 4) (Sonmark et al., 2017[36]; Guerriero, 2017[30]). An increasing number of studies show that the mastery of instruction is influenced by teachers’ affective, motivational and self-regulatory characteristics (Lauermann, 2017[40]). In particular, teachers’ enthusiasm for teaching has been identified as a predictor for student- and teacher-reported instructional quality, as well as student achievement and interest in mathematics (Kunter et al., 2013[41]). Some studies also suggest that personal responsibility, i.e. “an internal sense of obligation, commitment and duty” influences teaching practice (Lauermann, 2017[40]). Moreover, characteristics such as self-efficacy, their beliefs about their subject content and about teaching also matter for teaching practice and student learning (Lauermann, 2017[40]; Blömeke, 2017[42]). Affective and motivational competences therefore also need to be taken into account in selecting, developing, certifying and hiring candidates.

Despite the evidence on the multi-dimensional nature of professional competence, many countries and institutions base their entry and selection on a narrow set of criteria. The ITP study noted for example, that a strong emphasis on mathematics scores in entry requirements in Norway may have controversial impact on the suitability and quality of teacher candidates. There have also been concerns about the use of secondary school exam scores as an entry requirement in teacher education in Australia (TEMAG, 2014[6]). Building on stakeholder views, this report emphasises the need for more flexible and comprehensive approaches to selection (TEMAG, 2014[6]). The most recent accreditation standards require ITE providers to apply selection criteria, which incorporate both academic and non-academic components (AITSL, 2015[43]). A promising example identified in the ITP review is the Teacher Capability Assessment Tool that was developed by the University of Melbourne and has been used by increasingly more institutions across Australia (see Box 3.2 and Table 3.1/1). A comprehensive assessment of competencies can also inform decisions about certifying and hiring teachers. Understanding candidates’ motivational characteristics for example through interviews and portfolios can help finding the best fit for certain contexts.

Box 3.2. The Teacher Capability Assessment Tool

In 2012, the University of Melbourne developed the Teacher Capability Assessment Tool (TCAT) as an evidence-based tool for selecting and developing entrants into their postgraduate teacher education programmes. The tool assesses a range of cognitive and non-cognitive domains associated with the successful completion of ITE programmes. The TCAT is composed of two core components:

  • informed self-selection (e.g. disposition, self-regulation, resilience in the face of challenge, communication, cultural sensitivity, self-awareness)

  • cognitive and non-cognitive skill assessment (numerical, verbal and non-verbal reasoning)

These include measures of personal attributes and capabilities related to experience and readiness that are based on evidence relating to the factors associated with success in a teaching career.

In addition, the TCAT has optional components: a structured behavioural interview and teaching demonstration. These involve a trained panel of interviewers who assess candidates in key research-supported areas such as interpersonal skills and behaviour under pressure. The teaching demonstration component involves candidates preparing and presenting a short lesson to a panel of assessors.

Source: Teacher Ready!

While a more complex approach to defining entry, selection, certification and hiring criteria is desirable, there is still a need to build strong evidence on the impact of different characteristics on teaching quality over time. Therefore, recognising the collective benefit of graduates’ successful transition into the workforce and the importance of early and continuous professional development has a key role in developing candidates to become the right teachers in the right place (Paniagua and Sánchez-Martí, 2018[16]).

3.3. How can the different actors apply these strategies?

3.3.1. What can policy makers do?

Facilitating the collection, sharing and use of comprehensive ITP data to inform selection and hiring decisions

Forecasting requires shared responsibilities and collaboration of teacher education institutions, schools and regional or local administration in collecting and using data. For example, tracking students during and after ITE can provide useful data on issues such as teacher attrition and retention. Decision makers (including policy makers, local school boards, school leaders, etc.) can make more informed decisions if such data are easy to access and analyse. Therefore, policy makers should invest resources in developing longitudinal information systems that facilitate the collection and use of comprehensive data across institutions and over time.

Statistics Norway (LÆRERMOD) is an example for forecasting supply and demand for different types of teachers. This institute provides estimates that can be used to adjust teacher education to trends in the number of future users of educational services (Toril, Lund and Simonsen, 2016[44]). CentERdata in the Netherlands makes annual labour market estimates for the Ministry on teacher supply and demand over a period of 10 to 15 years. This institute uses a microsimulation model called Mirror (Microsimulation Calculation Model Regional Education Estimates), which is able to make statements at every aggregate level – not only on the geographic level, but also at the administrative level (CentERdata, n.d.[45]).

In Australia, work is underway on the Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) (AITSL, 2017[46]) collection which will link ITE data and teacher workforce data from across the country to provide a national picture of the teacher workforce, from those entering ITE through to retirement, to assist in future workforce planning and policy development.

Policy makers can also facilitate collaboration among institutions to agree on common data collection standards, and strategies for sharing and using data. For example, giving incentives to local administration (e.g. school boards or districts) to work with ITE providers and schools could help ensure that teachers are trained and selected to best meet local needs. This is particularly important in areas where distance between partners create challenges (i.e. in rural areas).

Providing multiple paths and support to enter teaching while maintaining quality standards

Providing multiple paths, including alternative routes, to teaching can create more flexibility in entering the profession, and thus provide supply of teachers in shortage areas. In the United States for example, candidates can enter the teaching profession through traditional routes provided by higher education institutions and alternative entry points. While such opportunities provide flexible and specialised training options for people to enter the profession, policy makers need to ensure that these programmes and routes also satisfy quality standards of teacher education.

Providing scholarships into teacher education or targeted programmes to attract candidates in specific areas can facilitate supply when there is a high demand of teachers. For example, some Australian states make special efforts to attract experienced STEM workers into teaching (Table 3.1/2), while other states have introduced incentives for teacher candidates to teach in remote areas (see also Box 3.3 and Table 3.1/3).

In order to attract “hesitant” candidates into teacher education, policy makers can encourage universities and other ITE providers to offer joint programmes. The Dutch Ministry of Education, for example, has been encouraging universities and providers of primary level ITE (Universities of Applied Sciences) to co-operate and deliver joint Bachelor of Arts (BA) primary ITE programmes, which award the student a BA from both institutions (Table 3.1/8).

Box 3.3. Attracting candidates to teaching in high need areas in Australia

As many other countries, Australia has difficulties both attracting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates into teaching and to attract and retain teachers in regional, rural and remote areas. In order to address these challenges, state and federal governments have implemented a diverse range of tailored initiatives.

The Teach for Australia programme, supported by the Australian Government, aims to fast track high-calibre non-teaching university graduates into disadvantaged secondary schools by providing an employment-based pathway into teaching.

In Queensland, STEAM (STEM and Arts) Teacher Education Centre of Excellence (STEAM TECE), provides with alternative routes to career changers with STEAM degrees in order to obtain the Master of Secondary Teaching. The rationale of the programme is to shorten the training of candidates but at the same time provide high quality trained mentors and a strong practicum and continuous contact with schools that partner with the programme. Due to the high demand for places, the programme does not currently offer financial compensation for students.

In the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia, state and territory governments offer a range of initiatives aiming at securing the quantity and quality of teachers in remote schools. These include the development of partnerships with universities outside these areas to offer practicums, substantial financial support, scholarships, while building teachers’ capacities (Table 3.1/3).

Introducing targeted incentives to support the supply of qualified teachers to meet specific needs

Interventions are often required in terms of both the preparation and employment of teachers to address specific needs. This can include scholarships for teachers with specific attributes or commitment to work in particular areas of need. Special preparation schemes should be incorporated in ITP programmes for teaching particular students to support the smooth transition of teacher graduates into employment in high need areas. It is equally essential to recognise the first few years of the teaching career as a crucial part of the learning process and, accordingly, assign early career teachers a special learning status with corresponding support mechanisms (Paniagua and Sánchez-Martí, 2018[16]).

Such interventions can help ensure greater supply of appropriately skilled teachers to teach in rural or remote areas, areas of shortage in terms of curriculum expertise, lower socio-economic communities and in schools serving minority and indigenous student populations. For example, financial incentives, such as scholarships and subsidies, are provided in the Netherlands for students in shortage subjects such as languages and the hard sciences to enter teacher education (Table 3.1/9).

Including high quality teacher education in a comprehensive strategy to increase the attractiveness of teaching

The ITP study identified the need for a coherent national strategy to increase the attractiveness of teaching. This should include at a minimum two key pillars: promoting teaching as a career and promoting teaching as a high status profession. The former involves salary structures, career progression and working conditions, while the latter includes increasing the level of professional autonomy and responsibility, providing opportunities for personal growth, as well as promoting high quality teacher education. All of these factors contribute significantly to attracting and retaining effective teachers (Podolsky et al., 2016[47]).

Policy makers should consider teacher education as a key lever in promoting teaching as a profession. For example, Norway raised general criteria for becoming a teacher by introducing 5-year integrated Master’s programmes (Table 3.1/12). Such high-level degree programmes can enhance the status of the profession in the long run, although they may lead to shortages in the short term. Guaranteeing professional autonomy and empowering the teaching and teacher educator professions to take charge of their knowledge base, is also a way of promoting the profession. Examples for this are the Netherlands and Norway, where defining quality standards and professional knowledge is the responsibility of the profession.

Policy makers should accompany such promotion with a clear communication strategy to deepen the discourse around teaching in the media and public. This can change the often negative image of teaching reflected in media and public opinion. Examples for such media campaigns include Best Job in the World and Teach to Lead campaigns in the United States.

3.3.2. What can teacher education institutions do?

Defining and setting quality criteria for ITP programmes across institutions

Teacher education institutions can initiate dialogue with schools and local administration (school boards, districts) to agree on quality levers at completion of initial teacher preparation (including induction period). These methods could complement or replace current entry criteria into initial teacher preparation – and could better inform teacher recruitment and selection. In Japan, there has been a development of quality assessments and filters to increase the competitive selection of candidates to ITE programmes (Table 3.1/4), while the Australian Federal Government has implemented new national selection requirements to ensure teacher candidates meet the adequate levels of academic and non-academic criteria (Table 3.1/1).

Quality criteria should also extend to research and teaching in ITE. Conducting high-quality research on teaching and learning and involving teacher candidates in research projects can contribute to attracting candidates into teacher education. In Wales, there is currently a strong emphasis on changing the research culture in teacher education institutions and develop a more coherent research agenda (Table 3.1/13). In Korea, the Ewha Womans University has a model of ITE focusing on creativity and critical thinking to foster teacher candidates’ capacity to be prepared for the changing realities and needs of schools (Table 3.1/6). This model is based on and highlights the need to develop high standard and interdisciplinary education research.

Creating and offering joint ITE programmes is another form of cooperation between institutions that can facilitate shared quality criteria and attract candidates at the same time. Such an initiative was identified in the Netherlands (Table 3.1/8, see also above).

Partnerships between teacher education institutions and schools in developing ITP programmes can also contribute to common standards and higher quality ITP. In the Netherlands, there are examples for partnerships between school boards and ITE providers to develop ITE and professional development programmes together and drive improvement across their schools (see Box 4.3. in Chapter 4 and Table 3.1/10).

Using and sharing data on teacher candidates to facilitate decisions about appointing and hiring candidates

Collecting comprehensive data on entry and completion, the profile of teacher candidates (e.g. second career teachers), their motivational characteristics and so on can contribute to better managing supply and demand.

In general, teacher education institutions can initiate and facilitate closer collaboration with schools and districts to better understand local teacher supply-demand issues and development needs. For example, partnering with schools can facilitate the collection and use of data that extend to graduates after employment. ITE providers could also share candidate information with schools and districts (e.g. share candidate strengths, areas for development, interest and motivation before practical training and during selection/recruitment). This can facilitate appointing the right candidate in the right place and also help to create a development continuum from preparation to induction. This is best illustrated in the way diverse Australian initiatives seek to develop particular preparation paths to meet the particular requirements of schools (see Box 3.3 and Table 3.1/2,3). In Korea, employment examinations are both an important driver of quality of teacher candidates and meet the local needs of schools (see Box 3.4 and Table 3.1/7).

Box 3.4. Managing the quality of ITE programmes and teacher candidates using quality assessments

As participation in secondary education has become almost universal in Korea and low birth rates are causing the number of secondary school students to decline, the country is experiencing a considerable oversupply of graduates, in particular at the secondary level. Two different measures have been introduced that have turned a perceived challenge – the oversupply of ITE programmes and teacher candidates – into an opportunity to increase the quality of the ITP system.

First, the introduction of a comprehensive and robust employment exam as the final stage of ITP has helped schools to hire the best candidates, while introducing a fair method of assessment. The exam is designed by the Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) but is delivered by provincial education offices, who are able to customise it to best suit their needs. Second, the evaluation of ITE programmes established the criteria to provide ITE institutions with information for improving the quality of their programmes and reducing progressively the number of ITE places for secondary teaching. This evaluation is designed by the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI) and then conducted by panels of teacher educators (Table 3.1/7).

Acknowledging teacher educators’ unique role and supporting them

Teacher education institutions need to acknowledge and support teacher educators in their diverse roles. This can include providing professional development opportunities, evaluating and promoting teacher educators not only based on their scientific work, but also based on their teaching. Providing incentives for them to conduct research relevant for teaching teachers, reflect on and improve their practice collectively can contribute to building a coherent knowledge base for teacher educators.

Although there is still no formal training for teacher educators, there is a growing awareness of the status and role of teacher educators in both Norway and the Netherlands (Toril, Lund and Simonsen, 2016, p. 39[44]; Brouwer et al., 2016[13]). An example for this is the Dutch professional standards for teacher educators developed by the Dutch Professional Association for Teacher Educators (VELON) that include “knowledge bases” for teacher educators to improve the quality of ITE programmes in the Netherlands (Table 3.1/11). In Norway, unless they have a proven record of pedagogical competences, new teacher educators are required to complete a 100-hour course in university pedagogy (Toril, Lund and Simonsen, 2016, p. 39[44]).

3.3.3. What can schools and the profession do?

Taking charge of teachers’ knowledge base

While the overall policy context is crucial for raising the status of teaching, in order for it to become a full profession, it is the profession itself that needs to take charge of governing itself (Schleicher, 2018[48]; Howsam, Corrigan and Denemark, 1985[49]). Governing their own knowledge base is a key element of this. For example, schools can collaboratively co-conduct or participate in experimental and design research to identify what works in which context. The Japanese Lesson Study is a classic example for teachers engaging in research-based enquiry about practice (see Box 3.5 and Table 3.1/5). Schools can also develop and apply mechanisms that allow integrating new evidence into the professional practice such as disseminating results, systematically sharing individual and organisational knowledge, and so on (Révai and Guerriero, 2017[32]).

Profession-regulated registration and standards also contribute to the status of teaching. Many countries set professional standards for teachers, but it is not always the profession itself that is responsible for developing and revising these (Révai, 2018[50]). Examples for high professional involvement in developing teaching standards include Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and other countries (Révai, 2018[50]; OECD, 2013[51]).

Box 3.5. Research-based enquiry about practice in ITE in Japan

This form of collective enquiry process encompasses all phases of the ITP system in Japan and continues during in-service teaching. The process is called “lesson study” and involves a group of teachers working together to research, plan, teach, observe, and reflect on lessons. This approach helps teachers develop research skills needed to learn from the analysis of their own practices. Since this practice is well-established in most schools in Japan, the learning environments support teachers to carry out powerful lesson study work. Importantly, the ‘research lessons’ – i.e. the observed lessons – are acknowledged not as an end in themselves but as a fundamental way to build a contextual and collective view of education and the teaching profession. Outside Japan, “lesson study” approaches have spread over different countries on projects with in-service teachers – such as Norway, Ireland, United Kingdom, Hong Kong or the United States - but it still limited in ITE contexts Table 3.1/5).

Identifying specific needs and getting involved in the selection process

Schools forecasting their own teacher needs to the extent possible, collecting data on entry and attrition, as well as qualitative data such as exit interviews to better understand why some teachers leave the profession can foster the effective management of supply and demand.

In countries with decentralised systems, schools can participate in the selection of teachers, or are entirely responsible for selecting and hiring teachers such as Norway or the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, practical training of teachers include mandatory internships. This can be an opportunity to “try before they buy”, i.e. allowing schools to recruit teachers with the right “fit”. In Norway, the opportunity for those who are completing their studies or are early in their careers to enter the profession as a teaching assistant has similar advantages. Former assistants are sometimes hired after a successful practicum.


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