2. Ensuring an adequate supply of well-prepared teachers in vocational education and training

Teachers in vocational education and training (VET) are unique in terms of how they are recruited and trained – they are required to have not only subject and pedagogical knowledge but, in many cases, work experience in their industry. Moreover, VET teachers’ skills can be in high demand in occupations other than teaching, making it harder to recruit and retain VET teachers in the related subjects. This is not only the case for teachers of vocational subjects, but also for those teaching general education subjects in VET programmes. Teacher populations are also ageing in many countries, and particularly VET teachers. Countries facing these issues need to develop strategies to bring enough new talent into the VET teaching workforce to meet forecast demand.

This section examines how teacher shortages are identified and presents evidence on the extent of VET teacher shortages in countries where data are available. The sections that follow discuss the causes of these shortages, and how countries can tackle these challenges.

VET teacher shortages need to be measured and treated differently from shortages in other occupations. Although teacher shortages can be defined as the inability to fill teaching vacancies at current wages with individuals qualified to teach in the fields needed (i.e. demand exceeding supply), the VET teaching profession has some features that make shortages hard to define.

In order to measure VET teacher shortages, there are additional factors to take into account. The total supply of VET teachers includes the number of individuals with relevant VET teaching qualifications, but also the number of industry professionals with relevant experience and skills who enter the teaching profession. Therefore, the anticipated supply of VET teachers will vary depending on the country’s initial VET teacher education and training systems and how much movement there is between the VET sector and industry. The age at which VET teachers enter and exit the profession also matters for measuring teacher supply, as it determines for how many years they can serve. Supply also depends on retention rates among VET teachers, which in turn depends substantially on the level of support they receive, such as mentoring, working conditions and incentives. Underlying factors – often unmeasurable or subjectively measured – such as societal values and the reputation of VET teaching may also affect the supply of VET teachers.

The demand for VET teachers is largely dependent on the number of VET students, but class sizes and student-teacher ratios are also important determinants (Box 2.1), along with other indicators such as teachers’ working time and the division of time between teaching and other duties. Countries with a decreasing number of students may still face difficulty in recruiting VET teachers. For example, in Denmark, there are fewer students entering VET than there were,1 but this does not automatically lead to a lower demand for VET teachers because specialised courses are maintained despite reduced enrolment. The demand for VET teachers is also influenced by the demand for workers in occupations that require VET qualifications or skills, as well as the training needs of workers in these occupations.

As a result of these complexities, not many countries regularly and systematically collect comprehensive data focused on VET teachers, including the number of teachers, hiring needs and shortages.2 Collecting comprehensive data on VET teachers may be more challenging in countries where recruitment routes are diverse and where VET teachers often work in multiple VET institutions and sometimes divide their time between teaching and industry. VET teacher shortages are often measured through subjective assessments in surveys, for example surveys of VET institutional leaders about difficulties in recruiting teachers. However, some countries use a variety of data and qualitative information to assess shortages. For example, in England (United Kingdom), the Migration Advisory Committee carries out an annual exercise to define a UK-wide Shortage Occupation List, which identifies the occupations that are facing shortages and that are deemed appropriate to be filled by migrant workers. To identify which occupations face shortages, the committee uses information on wages, vacancies and employment, together with stakeholder evidence (MAC, 2020[1]). This exercise includes all “skilled” occupations, i.e. occupations classified above a certain level in the Regulated Qualifications Framework, including Further Education Teaching Professionals.

Likewise, few countries have data that can be used to forecast future demand for and supply of VET teachers. In Germany, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK) forecasts the demand for and supply of VET teachers and any resulting imbalance (Figure 2.2). Sweden also produces a forecast of teacher demand and supply, with the latest published numbers based on the 2018 teacher register (number of teachers, the proportion of qualified teachers and of those who actually work as teachers), 2019 population projections, student-teacher ratios and other inputs. Statistics Norway projects teacher shortages using education and labour market statistics. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections projects occupational employment including projections for career and technical education (CTE) teachers in both secondary and post-secondary education (2019-29).

While research and knowledge about these aspects has been limited (Behrstock-Sherratt, 2016[3]), some countries are strengthening their measurement of VET teacher demand and supply. In England, the Staff Individualised Record (SIR) collected data on teachers in the further education (FE) sector for 27 years with the last data being collected for 2018/19. However, teacher population estimates were not always included in the data and response rates varied across different types of providers. England is currently working to improve the data available on the FE workforce by introducing a workforce data collection from 2021 – this will become mandatory the following year, replacing the SIR. England has also gathered relevant data through the College Staff Survey in 2018 and its follow-up survey in 2019 among leaders, teachers and college staff in general and specialist FE colleges (Thornton et al., 2018[4]; Thornton et al., 2020[5]). Additionally, the 2019 Education and Training Professionals Survey was conducted among independent training providers, adult and community learning providers, and sixth form colleges (IFF Research, 2020[6]).

Internationally comparable data on VET teacher shortages are especially limited, as countries differ in how they define VET teachers (see Chapter 1) and how they measure or estimate supply and demand, reflecting the differences in their VET systems (Annex Table 2.A.1. Error! No bookmark name given.). Even those countries that do not appear to have teacher shortages at the national level may in fact be facing shortages at local or sectoral/subject levels, which further increases the difficulty of making international comparisons.

While there is no simple or uniform way to measure VET teacher shortages, in several OECD countries there is considerable concern about shortages of VET teachers. Based on available data and evidence, countries including Denmark, England, Germany, Korea, Portugal, Sweden and the United States show some signs of shortages of suitably qualified VET teachers. In the United States, for example, 98% of surveyed state directors of VET in a recent survey reported that remedying shortages of qualified VET instructors had been a key priority for their state and all those state directors indicated that this would be a priority for their state in the future (Advance CTE & CCSSO, 2016[7]). Other research indicates that as many as half the states across the country have major shortages of VET teachers (Jacques and Potemski, 2014[8]), and more than half of states reported that they have teacher shortages in one or more VET subject (2018-19 Teacher Shortage Areas in the United States). Australia,3 Finland, Japan and Norway also show some signs of shortages in certain sectors or regions (countries’ responses to the OECD questionnaire).

Some countries have made estimates of the expected shortfall in VET teacher numbers. In Germany, using the information from the KMK (KMK, 2019[9]), the estimated supply of VET teachers would be about 80% of the estimated demand per year between 2018 and 2030 (Figure 2.2). The German Education Union (GEW) estimated a greater shortage based on a larger estimated number of VET students (Dohmen and Thomsen, 2018[10]). In Sweden, a forecast by the Swedish National Agency for Education shows a risk of a shortage of trained upper secondary VET teachers. Based on information on examination needs4 and estimated numbers of VET teacher training graduates, the agency estimated the supply of new VET teachers to be less than half of the demand for 2019-33 (Figure 2.2). Alternative calculations have assumed higher retention rates for VET teachers, but even these indicate future shortages. Future demand for upper secondary VET teachers in Sweden will grow from 6 838 full-time equivalents in 2018 to 7 900 in 2033, assuming that VET student application rates remain constant. While the average annual recruitment requirement is 830 full-time VET teachers for this period, this rises to 1 050 if the low retention rate of VET teachers compared to other teachers is taken into consideration, as well as teacher retirement rates and the growth in the student population (Skolverket, 2019[11]). In Korea, information based on the number of teacher entrants and retirees, implies that the supply of new VET teachers reached only about 70% of the replacement need in the past five years (Figure 2.2).

Data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 provide internationally comparable data on teacher shortages. Figure 2.3 shows that a significant share of the leaders of upper secondary educational institutions reported that VET teacher shortages and qualified teacher shortages limited their school’s capacity to provide quality instruction. In Denmark and Portugal, 37% of VET leaders reported shortages of qualified teachers. In Portugal, 32% reported shortages of vocational teachers.

Some countries use several sources of information on teacher shortages, and it is not always easy to arrive at consistent overall conclusion from them. In England, although VET teachers (i.e. further education teaching professionals of both general and vocational subjects) do not feature on the shortage occupations list from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC, 2020[1]), other evidence does point towards possible shortages. First, the Committee identified limited availability of training in some shortage occupations (MAC, 2020[1])5 – this training shortage may suggest VET teacher shortages in those occupations. Second, several survey data sources indicate VET teacher shortages in England. According to the 2018 College Staff Survey, 53% of college leaders had found teacher recruitment over the last three years difficult (Thornton et al., 2018[4]). There are also shortages of mathematics teachers, who are crucial in many VET subjects, according to England’s national survey of the mathematics teacher workforce in FE colleges (Noyes, Dalby and Lavis, 2018[15]). Moreover, using information from the Annual Population Surveys, one-year retention rates for VET teachers in the United Kingdom were 79% in 2017, lower than the average for the UK workforce (83%), and have declined slightly from 84% in 2013. In comparison, retention rates of secondary school teachers declined from 86% to 82% over the same period (ONS, 2019[16]).

Even in countries where VET teacher shortages are not an issue at the aggregate level, such as Finland and Norway, shortages can be found in specific fields. This is particularly the case in fields with a high employment rate, as in those cases VET teaching jobs might offer less attractive wages than those in the industry. In Norway, projections show that supply and demand are roughly in balance for VET teachers today, and that supply will grow faster than demand over the period 2016-40 (Statistics Norway, 2018[17]). However, Norway does currently face difficulty attracting applicants for VET teacher positions in certain fields, such as the building and technical industries (Norway’s response to the OECD questionnaire). In England, the leaders of both further education colleges and independent training providers identified the fields of construction, engineering and manufacturing and digital/information technology (IT) as the most difficult vocational subjects to recruit in, and those with some of the highest vacancy rates6 (Thornton et al., 2018[4]; IFF Research, 2020[6]). Teacher shortages are not only an issue for vocational subjects, but also general subjects that are crucial in many VET programmes. For example, since 2016, apprentices and lower-attaining post-16 students progressing to FE in England must attain a certain level of mathematics and English. Driven in large part by this policy change, FE college principals and leaders of adult learning providers have indicated that maths and English were the most difficult academic subjects to recruit in, and that the related fields of numeracy, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and literacy also had some of the highest vacancy rates (Thornton et al., 2018[4]; IFF Research, 2020[6]). For sixth form colleges, physics was the most difficult subject to recruit in (65%), followed by mathematics (50%) and chemistry (45%) (IFF Research, 2020[6]).

Some of the factors behind VET teacher shortages may be related to the limited attractiveness of the profession due to employment conditions and a lack of financial incentives and career support. During OECD stakeholder interviews in England, Japan and the United States (see Box 1.1 and Annex 1.A. in Chapter 1), some participants pointed out that the relatively low status and reputation of VET often translates into relatively few applicants for VET teaching positions, low retention rates and dissatisfaction with the profession compared to other competing careers.7

As with other careers in the education sector, the attractiveness of VET teaching careers, salaries and working conditions relative to alternative occupations affects how likely people are to undertake initial teacher training and remain in the profession (OECD, 2019[18]). VET supports industry by developing and supplying qualified professionals, but also often has to compete with industry to recruit talent, particularly for occupations that are facing shortages, and is often unable to offer competitive salaries. Competition for staff with general educational institutions, especially when recruiting teachers of general subjects, particularly mathematics and science, can also be challenging. According to exploratory research in England, general secondary teaching is the closest occupation to the FE teaching profession, followed by industry occupations that match the vocational subject taught (Lake et al., 2018[19]). This shows that the VET sector has to compete with both general secondary teaching and industry in similar fields to recruit teachers.

VET teachers often move between the VET sector and other educational institutions or industry. According to the 2019 College Staff Survey Follow Up8 in England (Thornton et al., 2020[5]), 13% of teachers and leaders in FE had left the college where they were employed when they were surveyed the year before. Among those who had left their college, around half (52%) remained working in education, including 35% who remained in the FE sector. The remainder were either working in industry (17%), no longer working (18%) or self-employed (7%) (Figure 2.4). The likelihood of leaving the FE sector had also risen among some teachers: the largest increase those reporting they were likely to leave was among engineering and manufacturing teachers (+17 percentage points since the 2018 survey) and construction (+6 percentage points), both sectors with particular recruitment challenges. Among newer teachers (those who had worked in FE for less than 3 years), 40% reported that they were likely to leave FE in the next 12 months in 2019 (31% in the 2018 survey). In comparison, FE colleges’ churn rate was greater than higher education institutions’ (9%), but lower than secondary schools’ (20%). However, only 11% of secondary school teachers in England were intending to leave the profession entirely, which is lower compared to FE college teachers (IFF Research, 2020[20]). Similarly, the need for VET teacher recruitment in Sweden is largely driven by teachers leaving for other jobs (Skolverket, 2019[11]).

According to the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) data for 2017-19, about 9-10% of VET teachers in England, Finland and Portugal were looking for another job, while the share was about 8% for the United Kingdom overall (including all four regions), Denmark and France. In particular, a large share of VET teachers in Denmark, England (and the United Kingdom), Estonia, France, Hungary and Portugal were looking for another job that all other comparison groups including general education teachers (Figure 2.5). In contrast, VET teachers in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, are less likely than other groups to be looking for another job. Probit regression results using 2019 EU LFS data suggest that across European countries, VET teachers are slightly more likely (2 percentage points, statistically significant) to be looking for another job when compared to general education teachers with similar personal and job characteristics (Annex Table 2.A.3).

Evidence from the United States (Texas) suggests that turnover intention of CTE teachers in the health science field, which faces VET teacher shortages, negatively correlates with job satisfaction. Job satisfaction accounted for almost 40% of the unique variation in turnover intention (Park and Johnson, 2019[22]).

Employment security is an important determinant for entering a profession, and has a strong impact on retention and job satisfaction. This is certainly also the case for the VET teaching profession. The use of temporary contracts for VET teachers is widespread in several OECD countries. For example, many Australian VET teachers, whether they work for a public or private Registered Training Organisation (RTO)9, are employed on insecure contracts, such as a casual contract (paid by the hour) or a short-term contract (semester by semester or year by year). Such flexible recruitment and time arrangements make it easier to hire industry professionals and allow VET teachers to also work in industry to bring up-to-date industry knowledge to VET, but casual VET teachers have no clear career prospects, and much more limited employment benefits (e.g. paid annual leave) than those employed on a permanent contract. While many of the casually employed teachers in some of the larger public RTOs are re-engaged time and again, the underlying insecurity does not make VET teaching an attractive career initially (ACDEVEG’s response to the OECD questionnaire).

In most OECD countries with available data, temporary contracts are more common for VET teachers than both general education teachers and all tertiary-educated workers (Figure 2.6). In Canada, Portugal and Spain, for example, one out of three VET teachers have a temporary contract, which is much higher than among general education teachers. Among the nine European countries with available data, the main reason for VET teachers to be employed on a temporary contract was that they could not find a permanent job, except in the Netherlands and Germany where a large share of temporary VET teachers (60%) report having this type of contract because they are in training or probation (Figure 2.7).

The COVID-19 pandemic and its particularly strong impact on the VET sector has contributed to further employment insecurity – although the impact might be temporary. For instance, in England 8% of FE teachers were furloughed in 2020 compared to 2% of secondary school teachers, based on the national labour force survey (MAC, 2020[1]). Between August 2019 and August 2020, job postings for FE teachers decreased by 14.2% whereas those for secondary school teachers increased by 6.7%, based on Burning Glass Technology data (MAC, 2020[1]). These differences may be related to the fact that it is harder to teach vocational and practical skills on line than general and academic subjects and that the FE sector is privatised in England, whereas secondary schools are not.

Teachers’ salaries represent the largest single cost in VET (see Figure 1.1 in Chapter 1) and also have a direct impact on the attractiveness of the teaching profession. They influence individuals’ decisions to enrol in initial teacher education, to become a teacher after graduation, and to return to the teaching profession after a career interruption. They also have an impact on whether teachers choose to remain in teaching; in general, the higher teachers’ salaries, the fewer people choose to leave the profession (OECD, 2020[2]). In England, according to the 2018 College Staff Survey (CSS), 41% of FE college principals said that pay affected the recruitment and retention of teachers in FE colleges: this included salaries being higher in industry (22%) and in non-VET schools (17%) (Thornton et al., 2018[4]). Salary levels – although not always the most cited or the only factor – were also among the main determinants of job satisfaction in CSS. According to the 2019 Education and Training Provider Survey, pay and benefits were not “the most difficult aspects of working in education and training”, being reported by about 11-18% of VET providers (IFF Research, 2020[6]). In the six OECD countries/regions with TALIS 2018 data available, the share of VET teachers who were satisfied with their salary ranged from just over 70% in Alberta (Canada) to only 15% in Portugal (Figure 2.8). Only in Denmark were VET teachers much less satisfied with their salary than teachers in general education.

However, it is difficult to confirm whether the level of satisfaction reflects actual differences in salary levels relative to other teachers (or other jobs) with comparable personal and job characteristics. First, available data – both within countries and internationally – do not always allow the salaries of VET teachers to be compared with those of teachers in general education programmes who have the same level of qualification and work experience, nor with those of workers in relevant occupations outside the education sector (i.e. alternative occupations for VET teachers). Second, remuneration regimes may not be the same for VET teachers and general education teachers (e.g. teachers in VET institutions and secondary schools in Australia and England) or VET teachers may be remunerated from different sources (e.g. public, private or a combination of both). Moreover, in some countries, teaching qualifications are not required for VET teachers whereas general education teachers’ qualifications are regulated, as is the case in England.10

While the statutory salaries of upper secondary teachers with 15 years of experience and the minimum qualifications were similar in general and VET programmes in the 19 OECD countries with available data (OECD, 2020[2]), their actual salaries may differ. Where there are differences, this may reflect differences in the age distribution of teachers, their qualification levels and experience or differences in the allowances available and tasks undertaken. Other benefits, such as regional allowances for teaching in remote areas, family allowances, reduced rates on public transport and tax allowances for the purchase of instructional materials, may also form part of teachers’ total remuneration (OECD, 2020[2]).

Data from the Structure of Earnings Survey (SES) 2014 and other sources of information on earnings show that the median salaries of VET teachers (defined by teaching subject, not by programme orientation) are 7.8% lower than those of general education teachers for the 15 countries with available data (based on median monthly earnings for all but 3 countries; see Figure 2.9 for details). Even when controlling for certain personal and job characteristics, a regression analysis using SES data for European countries finds that full-time VET teachers tend to earn less per month than full-time general education teachers among the countries taking part (a 3.8% difference, statistically significant).11 A similar regression analysis shows that age, tenure and education level are generally positively correlated with the level of VET teachers’ salaries.12 The data also allow teachers’ salaries to be compared to those of other reference groups. For example, in half of the countries with available data, VET teachers earn higher salaries than tertiary-educated workers; only in France do they earn higher salaries than general education teachers (Figure 2.9).13

Evidence from national data also suggests a similar story. In England, according to ASHE 2019, FE teachers’ median full-time annual wage is about GBP 2 600 below that of secondary school teachers (MAC, 2020[1]). According to the National Careers Service (2020[26]), FE lecturers, tutors or teachers earn between GBP 24 000 and 37 000 (working 35-37 hours a week), varying by sector and subject, while secondary school teachers earn between GBP 24 373 and 41 419 (working 37-45 hours a week). In addition, as the pay for VET teachers is also usually below the level earned by those working in the relevant industry, VET teaching may not be attractive to highly skilled trades and professionals.

Another aspect to consider is that these average wages hide possible differences between certain types of VET teachers, types of schools and other factors. For example, in the United States, there is little difference between the average wage levels of secondary school teachers of general subjects and of career and technical education (CTE) teachers (Figure 2.9). However, there is difference based on the type of institution (e.g. state-owned versus private) and the level at which teachers teach (e.g. secondary versus post-secondary) (Figure 2.10). Similarly in England, average salaries differ depending on the type of providers.14

While salary levels relative to competing industries and employment security are the main challenges to VET teacher recruitment and retention, there are additional issues that may also require attention depending on individual countries’ contexts. These include society’s recognition of the profession, career development opportunities, workload and management-related issues.

The level of societal recognition on the profession may influence the choice to enter VET teaching (OECD, 2020[32]). According to TALIS 2018, only 31% of VET teachers feel that the teaching profession is valued by society (Figure 2.11). However, country variation was substantial: 13% of VET teachers in Slovenia reported that their profession was valued by society, compared to 56% in Alberta (Canada). In all countries, VET teachers are slightly more likely to report that their profession is valued by society than general education teachers.

Workload, management (see Chapter 5) and career development opportunities may also have an effect on job satisfaction, which in turn may have an effect on teacher retention. For example, according to the 2018 CSS in England, the reasons why teachers were considering leaving FE in the next 12 months (42% of teachers) were mostly related to workload (40%), perceived poor college management (39%) and pay (35%) (Thornton et al., 2018[4]). Related to the dissatisfaction with college management, 47% of teachers at poor-quality colleges (i.e. those rated “requires improvement” or “inadequate”) said they were likely to leave the FE sector (and expressed higher levels of dissatisfaction), compared with 38% of teachers at good-quality colleges ("outstanding” or “good”) (Thornton et al., 2018[4]). The 2019 CSS Follow Up confirms this: the most common reasons given for leaving the FE sector among teachers and leaders who had done so were perceived poor college management (58%), followed by unmanageable workloads (46%).

The 2018 CSS (Thornton et al., 2018[4]) found that 59% of teachers were not satisfied with the opportunities available to develop their careers in FE. The level of dissatisfaction with career development opportunities was slightly lower among teachers working for other types of providers, according to the ETP survey (IFF Research, 2020[6]).15 According to the 2019 CSS Follow Up (Thornton et al., 2020[5]), 37% of teachers who were surveyed in 2018 had been dissatisfied with opportunities to develop their career in FE.

Financial support and incentives, including salary increases and compensation of teacher training costs, can make VET teaching careers more attractive and motivate qualified teachers to stay and progress in their profession. Supportive and attractive employment conditions, including salaries, can also have positive effects on teachers’ willingness to remain in the profession and their capacity to provide high-quality learning environments for their students (OECD, 2019[18]). According to TALIS 2018, on average across the OECD, teachers – including both general and VET teachers – who are satisfied with their salaries and employment conditions are more likely than others to want to continue in teaching, and also to remain in the same school (OECD, 2020[32]).16

While the evidence on the effectiveness of financial incentives and support on VET teacher recruitment and retention is limited and mixed, well-targeted financial incentives and support are proven to be effective. Targeted support includes financial incentives for those taking up initial teacher education and training (ITET) and professional development, or financial (salary) incentives that are targeted on industry professionals in areas of teacher shortages. Research conducted in England suggests that financial incentives to encourage take up of ITET among FE teachers have met with varying degrees of success and are most effective when multiple complementary schemes are offered together, offering a suite of initiatives may help to increase awareness of the support available to potential candidates, and increase the visibility of the VET sector as a career option (CooperGibson Research, 2018[33]).

There are several examples of targeted bonus and wage incentives for teacher recruitment and retention in VET. These incentives can be targeted at specific subjects where it is difficult to recruit teachers, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), or the health care sector. For example, in Belgium (Flanders), individuals moving from the private sector into VET teaching in shortage subjects are allowed to enter the teaching profession at a higher tenure level (to a maximum of 8 years), which means a salary of up to EUR 300 per month above the baseline salary (Vlaams Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming, 2020[34]).17 England also provided a range of financial incentives to attract high-quality graduates to teach mathematics and English in FE colleges. The evaluation of these initiatives found that overall they had a positive impact on the number of new trainee teachers and their rates of completion and employment as a teacher in FE sector, but that not all incentives were effective (Box 2.2). In the United States, various federal, state or local-level grants are available to improve recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers or industry professionals in VET (Box 2.3). Norway provides a grant scheme for industry professionals who have a trade- or journeyman’s certificate or similar but no teacher training. The scheme offers candidates a grant to complete the course needed to become a qualified VET teacher.

Some countries have also tried to make VET teaching more attractive by salaries. In Korea, for example, as part of the Plan for Vocational High School Support and Employment Promotion 2020, the government is planning to increase the salaries of adjunct teachers from industry by more than 10% to attract them into VET teaching. However, in many countries, it is not easy to raise salary levels overall, and especially not to the levels at which industry pays highly skilled workers, regardless of whether salaries are set in accordance with civil servant remuneration regimes or otherwise.

VET teachers’ salaries are defined in different ways in different countries. For example, in Denmark, the teachers’ trade union negotiates teachers’ salaries with employers, using the base salary set by the government as a framework. VET institutions can adjust VET teachers’ salaries based on their levels of qualifications and experience, but in many cases there are no incentives based upon performance or experience. In England, FE providers define teachers’ salaries (market-based), and there is no framework or external intervention other than a non-binding guideline and recommendation on pay (e.g. by the Association of Colleges for FE colleges). In Austria, Germany and Korea, where VET teachers are civil servants or regulated by equivalent laws and regulations, teachers receive government-defined salaries, although in Germany central or regional governments can adjust teachers’ salaries in order to guarantee performance levels, awards and allowances (see Box 2.7 on teacher recruitment).

Countries could consider targeted salary increases given that some VET teachers’ salaries depend on multiple factors such as the relevant sector or occupation, and their level of education and experience, and type of VET institution (e.g. public or private; national or regional). It may be possible to increase salary levels without increasing overall teaching costs through the better management of human resources. In England where FE colleges can set their teachers’ salaries, some colleges have been able to achieve low teaching costs by managing their staffing mix, managing costs per teacher (e.g. greater use of high-performing staff with lower tenure), and optimising the number of learners per teacher (through managing teaching contact hours, class or group sizes and teaching hours per learner), according to the Association of Colleges (AoC, 2015[35]).

VET teachers who have targeted career support are more likely to stay in the profession and such support is particularly important for those who entered the profession after or while working in industry. For example, England’s CSS 2018 suggests a positive correlation between retention and VET teachers’ satisfaction with opportunities to develop their career. Among those teachers who were dissatisfied with the career development opportunities in FE, 69% said they were likely to leave the sector in the next 12 months, compared with 21% of teachers who were satisfied (Thornton et al., 2018[4]). There are various ways to support career development for VET teachers to stay in the profession.

  • Training and mentoring of novice teachers, particularly new teachers recruited from industry, to strengthen their pedagogical skills (see Chapter 3).

  • Providing experienced VET teachers with relevant professional development and career progression opportunities: for experienced teachers, providing professional development opportunities (see Chapter 3), providing opportunities for career mobility, and building attractive career pathways to become head teachers or VET institutional leaders are effective ways to motivate them to stay in the VET teaching profession.

Teachers at the start of their careers face particularly difficult situations and thus need much more support from VET institutions, mentors and other teachers. TALIS data show that teachers in their early career tend to work in more challenging schools and often work in more than one school at a time (OECD, 2020[32]).18 In some countries, low teacher retention, in particular high attrition among new teachers, is a serious challenge. For example, Helms-Lorenz (2014[47]) reported that approximately 21% of secondary teachers in the Netherlands had stopped teaching after one year and 31% after five years, and the figures were slightly higher among teachers in vocational schools than those in general secondary education or pre-university schools (Helms-Lorenz,, 2014[48]). In England, the CSS 2019 follow-up showed that 27% of those who left their main college did so within a year of starting work there and a further 19% had left before completing three years’ service (Thornton et al., 2020[5]).

Lack of support for novice teachers and poor inductions – in particular for those who came from industry – can therefore result in higher staff turnover, lower retention rates and lower levels of job satisfaction and are likely to have a negative impact on teacher performance (De Bruijn, Billett and Onstenk, 2017[49]). Given that novice teachers need extra support, it is helpful for them to be assigned to less challenging working environments in their first placements (OECD, 2020[32]). Reduced teaching and administrative workloads to have sufficient time for mentoring and structured induction programmes can also reduce attrition in the early years (den Brok, Wubbels and van Tartwijk, 2017[50]).

According to TALIS 2018, less than half of VET teachers in the countries with available data received any formal induction (Figure 2.12). Only in Portugal and Sweden did more than two-thirds of VET teachers receive a formal induction. In Turkey, despite the introductions of mandatory induction in 2016 (see below), induction remained largely informal (77% informal versus 21% formal for VET teachers). Differences between VET and general education teachers are small and not significant in all countries, with the exception of informal induction in Denmark and Slovenia. In Denmark, informal inductions are more common among VET teachers than general education ones (46% versus 36%), whereas the opposite holds in Slovenia (37% versus 46%).

Induction can take many different forms, including personalised inductions (e.g. individual meetings with, or supervision by, leaders or experienced teachers or team teaching with experienced teachers), general inductions, induction courses, networking and reduced workloads. According to TALIS data, across the six OECD countries/regions with available data, the most common form of induction for both VET and general education teachers who received one was a personalised induction in the form of meetings with and supervision by leaders and experienced teachers (Figure 2.13). VET teachers received some types of personalised induction more often than general education teachers. For example, 74% of VET teachers were supervised by leaders and/or experienced teachers, compared with 68% of general education teachers and 53% did team teaching with experienced teachers (44% for general education teachers). In particular, VET teachers in Denmark are much more likely to benefit from team teaching with experienced teachers (75%) and a reduced teaching load (36%), compared to general education teachers (36% and 22% respectively), while the other types are relatively less common.

Mentors can provide crucial support during a teacher’s first years of teaching. According to the 2018 TALIS data, on average in the six OECD countries/regions, only 36% of VET teachers with less than three years of experience in teaching were assigned a mentor (Figure 2.14). The variation across countries was large, with only 15% of novice VET teachers being assigned a mentor in Denmark, compared to almost 50% in Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. In contrast, Denmark has the largest share of novice general education teachers receiving support from a mentor (42%), whereas the share falls to 13% in Portugal. In all countries except Denmark, novice VET teachers are more likely to be assigned a mentor than their peers in general education. Similarly, experienced VET teachers are on average more likely to be a mentor than teachers in general education, although the difference is small (14% versus 11% on average across the six OECD countries/regions with available data).

While many countries provide some form of induction for novice VET teachers, there remains room for improvement. In the United States, there are no systematic induction programmes for new VET teachers at a national or state level, instead initial teacher education and training may play this role. Universities of teacher education provide programmes equivalent to induction for VET teachers as part of initial teacher training. For example, the University of Minnesota runs the Teacher Induction Programme for VET teachers in the agriculture sector, involving senior, regional and peer mentors. The Teaching to Lead programme provides coaching and professional development to novice CTE teachers in the United States before, during and after the first year of teaching (see Box 2.5).

Some countries provide guidelines on how new teachers should be welcomed and guided at the start of their careers. For example, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training has developed such guidelines, and the National Programme for Continuing Education for VET Teachers offer courses in guidance of (new) VET teachers. In 2020-21, 22 VET teachers are earning 30 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits in the “Programme Guidance for VET teachers” course. In Germany, where teachers already do extensive preparatory service (two years practical training as part of their initial training while teaching in a VET school), their induction after becoming a fully qualified teacher gives newly qualified teachers the option to ask training staff (from teacher training institutes or institutions for in-service teacher training) for advice, particularly about didactic and methodological problems (KMK, 2017[52]).

Some countries mandate induction programmes for new VET teachers. Since 2019, all teacher training graduates in Austria have had an obligatory one-year induction period (induction courses at a teacher training university; supervised by a mentor), as a result of the new training guidelines for student teachers implemented in 2015 and 2016 (PädagogInnenbildung NEU). VET teachers of general subjects have a one-year induction phase which takes place in the school after graduating from a master’s programme (Müller et al., 2018[53]). Such measures increase the need for resources for support and mentoring as well as for the training of mentors, and a 2018 survey of Austrian teacher training universities found that there were not enough trained mentors for the induction phase. In Turkey, a reformed six-month induction process was introduced in 2016 according to the Teacher Strategy Paper 2017-23, but much improvement needs to be made in terms of training and assigning mentors (Akyildirim and Durgun, 2019[25]).

Attractive career pathways with targeted support encourage VET teachers to stay in the profession while allowing them to move into a senior or management-level position (see Chapter 5). In some countries the career structures for teachers in general programmes and VET programmes are the same, while in other countries, such as Estonia, teachers in VET who teach vocational subjects have a spate career structure, based on a distinct set of professional standards (Santiago et al., 2016[55]). In Slovenia, teachers’ career progression and salary increases are linked to teacher appraisal whereby school leaders evaluate the work of teachers at their school every year, carry out annual interviews, provide advice, and make recommendations for career advancement (OECD, 2016[56]).19 In the state of Queensland (Australia), TAFE teaching positions are graded as tutor, teacher, lead vocational teacher and educational team leader, each with a range of sub-categories and associated scale for wage increments (ICQ, 2016[57]). Chapter 5 discusses the mid-management career development in more detail.

While increasing the attractiveness of the VET teaching profession can help prevent or tackle VET teacher shortages, attracting professionals from industry and graduates from higher education specialising in the relevant subject requires extra efforts. For example, regulatory barriers, such as restrictive entry qualification requirements or employment restriction, can discourage them from teaching in VET. In order to overcome such barriers, several recruitment and work arrangements for VET teachers can be promoted. In general, to facilitate the entry of such professionals into VET teaching, it is important to provide multiple and flexible ways to recruit and qualify VET teachers.

There are two main recruitment paths into VET teaching. One is through initial teacher education and training (ITET), the other is recruiting those with relevant vocational skills, with or without a certain level of qualifications. While recruiting ITET graduates is a typical and traditional way of recruiting teachers in both general education and VET (see Chapter 3), recruitment through alternative channels is often more common in VET. For example in Sweden, all school teachers should be certified, and only these teachers can have permanent employment and are allowed to set grades independently. In regards to VET teachers, however, the Education Act permits an exception: non-certified teachers in VET can have permanent employment and set grades independently if certified teachers are unavailable. Providing opportunities to develop pedagogical knowledge and practice (and ultimately obtain a teaching qualification) after starting to teach can also be an attractive option for those who only have vocational qualifications or industry experience without such qualifications. Flexible work arrangements such as part-time teaching and co-teaching with fully qualified teachers can also help industry professionals to combine working in industry, training as teachers and teaching in VET. Such arrangements can also be further facilitated through collaboration between VET institutions and industry.

Efforts to attract industry professionals are worthwhile, as there are numerous benefits to having teachers with industry experience, other than tackling VET teacher shortages. First, they can bring up-to-date and relevant knowledge and skills from industry. Second, they can use their professional networks to facilitate their students’ work-based learning as well as strengthening connections between industry and VET. Third, they can support other VET teachers who do not have direct or up-to-date industry knowledge and experience, helping to improve the overall quality of VET provision and encouraging innovation and the use of advanced technology in VET. Fourth, they can fill gaps in VET provision in order to meet rapidly changing labour-market demand. For example, industry professionals can teach the skills needed in emerging occupations that have no established VET curricula or VET teaching qualifications or training.

Many countries recognise the importance of industry professionals and actively try to attract them to the VET sector. For example, the 2018 survey of State CTE Directors in the United States found that 98% of directors said that increasing access to industry experts is a high priority in their state. This reflects that the VET teacher shortage in the United States is often considered to be a shortage of industry experts in secondary education (Advance CTE, 2018[58]). Some countries have initiatives or policies in place to target specific groups to enter the teaching profession, such as migrants, retirees or military veterans (Box 2.6).

There are no precise and comprehensive internationally comparable data on the extent to which industry professionals are working in the VET sector. Two types of proxy measures can provide some insight into this recruitment pathway, however. The first estimate is based on the share of VET teachers who have a second job, using the EU-LFS. According to this estimate, about 13% of VET teachers on average in European OECD countries work both in the VET sector and elsewhere, ranging from 27% in Latvia to 2% in Luxembourg (Figure 2.15, Panel A). In most countries, VET teachers are more likely to combine work and teaching than both secondary education teachers and all tertiary-educated workers. However, while this figure captures VET teachers who currently combine work in the VET sector with a different job, it does not cover those whose main job is in industry but who have a second job in VET teaching, nor those who came from industry but are currently working full-time as VET teacher.

A second estimate can be made based on the qualifications of VET teachers. The majority of countries (with available data) require VET teachers to have teaching qualifications of at least ISCED Level 5 (short-cycle tertiary) or above (Annex Table 2.A.1. ). VET teachers whose highest educational attainment was ISCED Level 4 (post-secondary non-tertiary) or below are therefore likely to have been recruited through alternative channels. Based on this estimate, one in five VET teachers across OECD countries may have been recruited based on their industry experience or vocational qualifications (Figure 2.15, Panel B). Country differences are large, with the share of VET teachers with their highest educational attainment at or below ISCED Level 4 ranging from only 1% in Greece to almost 60% in Italy. In reality, the incidence of recruitment through alternative channels is probably higher than this estimate, given that: (1) industry professionals who work as VET teachers might still have higher levels of education without having a teaching qualification; and (2) those recruited through alternative channels may have obtained the necessary qualification after becoming a VET teacher. On the other hand, qualification requirements might have changed over time, and teachers who entered the teaching profession years ago might have only needed lower qualification than the current requirements for new entrants.

The 2018 TALIS data also provide information on industry professionals in the teaching profession. As shown in Chapter 1, VET teachers tend to have more work experience that is not related to education and teaching than general education teachers. For example, in Denmark and Sweden VET teachers have on average more than 10 years of work experience outside of teaching, while this is only 5-6 years for general education teachers. Only in Turkey do VET teachers have very limited work experience outside of teaching on average, at roughly the same level as general education teachers.

Evidence from England also suggests that many VET teachers have industry backgrounds. Around 72% of teachers and leaders in independent training providers (ITPs) and 64% of those in adult and community learning (ACLs) providers had experience outside of the education and training sector, while this was only the case for 39% of teachers and leaders in sixth form colleges (SFCs). In ITPs, 14% at the time of the survey also held a job outside of education, rising to 18% in ACLs but only 3% in SFCs (IFF Research, 2020[6]). This is in line with the findings from the 2018 College Staff Survey, which found that 64% of teachers in FE colleges had worked in industry before becoming a teacher, and that this was most likely among teachers of sales, marketing and procurement (88%); hair and beauty (87%); and agriculture (86%). More than one in six teachers (17%) were also working in industry (not necessarily related to subjects they taught in) at the time of the survey, and this was most common among teachers of hair and beauty (31%); creative and design (30%); and agriculture (29%) (Thornton et al., 2018[4]).

How VET teachers are recruited (Box 2.7) and what level of qualification is required varies across countries (Annex Table 2.A.1. ) – with some countries imposing stronger restrictions or requirements than others. For example, in those countries where VET teachers are civil servants or permanent employees (e.g. Austria, Germany, Japan and Korea), VET teachers have to pass one or more teaching qualification exam, for which they have to complete initial teacher education and training (including practical training in some cases). In Denmark, England, Northern Ireland and Sweden, VET providers are the employers of their teachers and have autonomy over recruitment, which means that qualification requirements may vary, and in the case of England there is no minimum qualification. In the United States, requirements vary according to the state and the route into CTE. In Washington state, for example, VET teachers can apply for the Initial Career and Technical Educator Certificate (the first level certificate) if they have completed either the university route (bachelor’s degree, WEST-E test, work experience and other requirements), or the business and industry route with verified required experience for each CTE area.

In some countries, VET teachers can start teaching without a teaching qualification, but they are required or encouraged to obtain the relevant qualification while working. They are hired based on an occupational qualification or their work experience. For example, in Denmark, VET teachers can achieve the required level of teaching qualification while teaching. The same is true in some states in the United States. In England, while there are no legal qualification requirements for teaching in FE, in practice FE providers often expect VET teachers – who frequently come from industry – to have, or work towards, a pedagogical diploma that is equivalent to ISCED Level 5 or higher. This varies depending on provider.20

Qualification requirements may also vary across different levels and types of VET programmes within a country. For example, in Denmark, in more theoretically oriented VET programmes (higher technical examination [højere teknisk eksamen or HTX] and combined vocational and general upper secondary leaving qualification [EUX]), VET teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree, while in more practically-oriented VET (EUD), industry professionals with at least five years of industry experience can start teaching without a pedagogical diploma (but have to obtain one later). EUD teachers have longer teaching hours but lower salaries than HTX and EUX teachers and are thus often more difficult to recruit.

Restrictive qualification requirements may create barriers to attracting industry professionals into the VET sector. In the United States, relaxed qualification requirements are considered to be a tool to smooth inflows from industry into teaching in VET. For example, 15 states recently passed CTE teacher certification or development policies to address the recruitment and certification, as well as the preparation and professional development, of CTE faculty and staff (ACTE and Advance CTE, 2019[44]). Ohio grants alternatively licensed CTE teachers a four year teaching license known as an Alternative Resident Educator license (Zirkle, Jeffery and Shrewe, 2019[64]). Missouri created a one-year teaching certificate for visiting scholars from industry who are part of a business-education partnership and have relevant education credentials (Minnesota Department of Education, 2017[65]). A recent law in Michigan allows non-certified, non-endorsed individuals to teach in certain VET programmes21 as long as they meet certain requirements, such as having acquired 2 years of professional experience in the relevant subject area during the past 10 years (ACTE and Advance CTE, 2019[44]). The impact of these measures remains to be seen, but in the context of restrictive and somewhat complicated licensing structures and certification policies (e.g. VET teachers needing to complete state-approved programmes to obtain a teacher certificate), such flexibility can encourage mobility between industry and VET teaching (Jacques and Potemski, 2014[8]). In Japan, industry professionals with relevant experience may acquire a special or temporary teacher licence without going through the official exam when they are proven to have relevant skills and experience. Special part-time lecturers, who can be recruited from industry, do not need a teacher licence. A subject-related bachelor’s degree with additional credit related to teaching can also lead to a teacher licence.

Flexible pathways to obtaining teaching qualifications may also be helpful for meeting new labour-market demand, especially when there are not yet any relevant teaching qualifications or training for VET teachers, as in the example of Korea (Box 2.8).

Attracting experienced professionals from industry requires a good balance between flexibility and standards that ensure high-quality teaching and pedagogical innovations. While the qualifications of VET teachers are standardised to some degree in many countries (Cedefop, 2016[67]), these standards often vary across localities, occupations and subjects (Zirkle, 2019[68]). In other countries, qualifications are not standardised at all and depend instead on decisions made by each VET institution. This lack of standardisation is not surprising given the mix of skills and experience professionals need to deliver effective VET. Revising standards may be a challenge in many countries, as this would involve discussion and co-ordination among a range of VET stakeholders, and any revisions must take into account possible consequences for the supply and teaching ability of VET teachers.

In order to facilitate the recruitment and (re-)qualification of VET teachers, some countries may need to harmonise qualification requirements for VET teachers across regions and different levels of VET programmes or institutions. For example, in the United States, both vocational and pedagogical qualification requirements and structures vary from state to state, limiting VET teachers’ mobility between states as well as between VET and industry. In Australia, although the majority of VET is carried out within Registered Training Organisations, VET also takes place in upper secondary schools. School teachers who teach VET in schools (where it is not outsourced to RTOs) are generally subject to the same qualification regimes as other school teachers, which vary by state and territory (ACDEVEG’s response to the OECD questionnaire).

Ideally, industry professionals – or those who enter VET teaching with relevant skills but without the necessary teaching qualifications (e.g. recent graduates) – should be provided with pedagogical training. For example, in Sweden, as mentioned above, non-certified VET teachers can be permanently employed in exceptional circumstances but VET providers are obliged to ensure that these teachers have the necessary knowledge of school curricula and access to in-service training. VET teachers in Denmark are not required to have a pedagogical qualification prior to starting employment, but should begin the vocational pedagogical diploma education no more than one year after being hired and complete it within six years. In Finland, the requirements for vocational teaching qualifications are relatively restrictive, at ISCED Level 6 (a bachelor’s degree or equivalent) or higher, often taking 6-7 years to obtain, followed by at least 3 years of relevant work experience. However, pedagogical qualification requirements are relatively achievable (60 ECTS or one year of full-time study), which makes it more manageable for industry professionals to complete the necessary training, leading to 93% of VET teachers in Finland being qualified in 2019 (Finnish Board of Education, 2020[69]). Chapter 3 discusses VET teacher training in depth, suggesting that countries provide flexible, modular ITET which can enable industry professionals or graduates who have no experience or no pedagogical training to obtain teaching qualifications and competencies without going through a full ITET programme.

Industry practitioners recruited into VET can combine part-time teaching with continuing to work in their industry. Part-time work can be attractive, as it offers flexibility not only to those who want to combine their teaching responsibilities with other jobs, but also those who have other reasons for preferring not to work full time. In fact, for many, a relatively flexible work schedule is a reason for becoming a VET teacher. According to the 2018 TALIS data (Figure 2.16), a flexible working schedule was the most commonly reported reason for becoming a VET teacher (68% of respondents) across the countries with available data, followed by a reliable income (66%), job security (62%), and a steady career path (56%). Moreover, VET teachers were more likely to be attracted to the profession by the flexible working hours than general education teachers (60%).

Several countries make intensive use of part-time VET teachers. For example, 60% of VET teachers in Switzerland, and 58% in the Netherlands, are part time although both countries have even higher shares of part-time general education teachers (Figure 2.17). Shares of part-time vocational teachers are also significant in France (37%), Germany (35%), England and the United Kingdom more widely (35%), and Italy (34%), more so than among general education teachers. Sweden (20%), Estonia (18%), Denmark (13%), Spain (12%) and Finland (7%) have a relatively small share of part-time vocational teachers, but the shares are also smaller for general education teachers (Figure 2.17). Those who work part time do so mostly for family or personal reasons or in order to participate in education and training, according to EU-LFS 2017-19 data. However, in France (50%), Greece (73%), Italy (54%) and Spain (71%), the majority of part-time VET teachers were working this way because they could not find a full-time job (Figure 2.18).

The share of part-time teachers may vary according to the type of VET institution, and the teachers’ gender, qualifications and subject taught. For example, in England, about three-fifths of contracts issued by ITPs and SFCs were full-time (64% for ITPs and 60% for SFCs), compared to around one in five (18%) for ACL providers. ACL providers issued a much greater share of sessional or flexible-hour contracts (53% versus 13% for ITPs and 3% for SFCs) (IFF Research, 2020[6]). This reflects the nature of their provision, which is often delivered as evening classes or short part-time courses. Female VET teachers are more likely to work part time than male ones (Annex Table 2.A.2). Part-time VET teachers tend to be less qualified: for example, in Finland 86% of full-time teachers of vocational subjects were qualified, compared to 61% of part-time teachers in 2016. The proportion of qualified teachers also varies by field in Finland: hospitality and catering, tourism, health and welfare, and humanities and education had the highest share of part-time teachers while technology and transport had the lowest share (Kumpulainen, 2017[71]). However, even when controlling for personal and job characteristics, probit regression results using EU-LFS 2019 data suggest that VET teachers in European countries have a higher probability of working part-time (9 percentage points), having a temporary contract (8 percentage points) and having a second job (4 percentage points) when compared to general education teachers (Annex Table 2.A.3); and similarly to tertiary-educated workers (Annex Table 2.A.4).

The spectrum of part-time VET teaching is wide. It includes part-time adjunct faculty who work at multi-campus VET institutions but aspire to a full-time position, and industry professionals who teach in the evening or weekends in an adult VET institution or who teach full-time for a full semester (see Box 2.9 for country examples). In the OECD stakeholder interviews, several providers noted they hire part-time teachers from industry to overcome shortages, reduce costs, increase the flexibility of their VET provision and to bring in up-to-date knowledge from industry. Efforts may be needed so that these advantages do not become disadvantages, such as making it harder to organise teaching timetables, or provide teachers with attractive wages, employment security or training opportunities. First, the teaching quality of these industry professionals who work as part-time VET teachers needs be ensured. Despite their greater levels of practical experience, instructor-practitioners can enter the field of teaching inadequately trained in pedagogy (Johnson, 2017[72]). Currently, specific policy is lacking to help VET institutions take advantage of the benefits of using instructor-practitioners, or to set quality standards for these teachers and improve their qualification levels (e.g. the Netherlands (Koop-Spoor et al., 2020[73]) and the United States (Johnson, 2017[72])).

Second, the quality of their working conditions also need to be ensured. Industry professionals hired as part-time teachers are often treated as a temporary replacement rather than an invited expert who will continue to bring added value to the VET sector, as is the case in the Netherlands (Koop-Spoor et al., 2020[73]). The employment status of part-time teachers may not be as stable as full-time teachers. For example, analysis using EU-LFS data shows that on average across European countries, part-time teachers with another job have a greater probability of having a temporary contract, than either full-time teachers or part-time teachers with no other job (Annex Table 2.A.2). According to the 2019 OECD Employment Outlook, temporary and part-time workers also have more difficulties accessing job-related training (OECD, 2019[74]). Further analysis may be necessary to see to what extent part-time VET teachers benefit from the same opportunities to update their relevant skills and enjoy the same employment security as part-time teachers in general education.

Industry professionals can also be active in VET institutions without formally being considered a VET teacher. This might be the case, if they teach only a relatively limited number of hours per year. They might (co-)teach part of a course or be invited to give guest lectures or practical demonstrations. This allows VET providers to bring in relevant and up-to-date industry experience in a flexible way, and can fill knowledge and skills gaps. Countries can support such flexible arrangements by creating a flexible regulatory environment, putting in place financial incentives or providing relevant training for professionals wishing to engage in such activities. In Flanders (Belgium), a two-year trial “dual teaching” project was launched in 2021 (Essenscia, 2020[76]). Within the project, professionals can teach in VET for a few hours per week on a temporary basis, in fields where schools have difficulty finding qualified VET teachers. These professionals can start teaching after a three-day pedagogical training programme (those who already have a teacher qualification are exempted). The training programme is financed by the government and the European Social Fund. Participating professionals continue to receive their normal wage, paid by their regular employer, who receives a lump sum subsidy per teaching hour from the government. In the Netherlands, individuals with specific expertise or knowledge can work as guest lecturers in upper secondary education, without having the required teaching qualification, for up to 160 hours per week (Rijksoverheid, n.d.[77]). The guest lecturer is the responsibility of the teacher. This type of teaching is mostly used for VET, as stricter rules apply in general education.

Strong relationships between VET institutions and industry are important not only to ensure the quality of VET provision but also to help supply and develop VET teachers. As discussed above, VET institutions can bring in industry professionals on short assignments or part-time VET teachers. VET teachers can also spend some time in industry as part of their professional development (see Chapter 3).

Collaboration between industry and the VET sector should be win-win. When local companies allow their employees to collaborate with a local VET institution (e.g. teaching there part time), they could also benefit in terms of recruiting apprentices or new VET graduates equipped with the skills they need. For instance, recognising such benefits and as a means to ease VET teacher shortages, a business-education partnership in Missouri, in the United States, allows industry professionals who are part of this partnership and have relevant education credentials to obtain a one-year teaching certificate. Policies that permit in-company trainers to easily become VET teachers and vice versa, can also help attract industry professionals into the teaching profession and promote the exchange of personnel between industry and the VET sector, as happens in Germany and Portugal (Box 2.10).

Many countries struggle to attract and retain VET teachers with relevant skills, which has translated into significant shortages. Despite a lack of comparative data, evidence suggests that many OECD countries are facing VET teacher shortages. An ageing VET teacher population could reinforce existing shortages in coming years if the supply of new teachers does not increase. Teacher shortages may hamper the sustainable provision of VETs, especially if they result in an increased reliance on teachers who are not well prepared for their role or a reduced VET offer.

The limited supply of VET teachers is driven by many factors, most of which are related to the limited attractiveness of the VET teaching profession in terms of salaries, workload and availability of financial incentives and career support compared to other occupations. Targeted financial incentives and support to encourage participation in initial teacher education and training could help attract new VET teachers, while offering career development support, in particular to new teachers, can help retain VET teachers.

Attracting industry professionals to teach in VET is another strategy to avoid or overcome VET teacher shortages. These industry professionals can bring practical skills and up-to-date industry knowledge to the classroom and strengthen co-operation between VET systems and the world of work. However, they often lack the necessary teaching qualifications and pedagogical skills, and therefore need access to flexible qualification and training opportunities. Countries may benefit from relaxing entry qualification requirements for industry professionals, and providing flexible alternatives to gaining required teaching qualifications. Moreover, flexible working arrangements could also make it easier for industry professionals to combine their job in industry with teaching responsibilities in VET.


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← 1. In Denmark, enrolment of all age students in upper secondary VET has decreased from 43% in 2013 (134 687) to 38% in 2018 (109 573).

← 2. While most countries collect data on the school workforce (e.g. the School Workforce Census in England), data collection on the VET workforce is currently limited.

← 3. In Australia, there are general education teacher shortages as well in specific geographic or subject areas.

← 4. “Examination need” indicates the number of people who need to be examined in order for the estimated recruitment need to be met with newly graduated qualified teachers.

← 5. e.g. due to limited capacity for training “which might need to start with the work being done within schools and colleges”; “the location of training providers in relation to employers, particularly in rural areas, meaning that employers had to either develop their own training programme” and “ the cost and duration of training”.

← 6. For ITPs, 23% and 8% had at least one vacancy in construction courses and engineering and manufacturing courses respectively. For further education colleges, the total reported vacancy numbers, including vacancies temporarily filled by supply staff, were reported relatively high in construction (260 or 5%), engineering and manufacturing (240 or 5%), legal, finance and accounting (40 or 5%), business and administrative (120 or 4%) and digital / IT (80 or 4%) (Thornton et al., 2018[4]; IFF Research, 2020[6]).

← 7. In Australia, the Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group recognises this.

← 8. The follow up survey covered 3 694 teachers and leaders from general FE and specialist FE colleges (excluding sixth form colleges and other types of FE provider) between April and June 2019, approximately 12 months after the 2018 survey.

← 9. RTOs include public providers of VET, known collectively as TAFE (Technical and Further Education) and around 500 other training providers including industry-based and private providers.

← 10. Exploratory research in England confirmed that secondary education teaching professionals are the most representative comparator group for FE teachers as a whole. However, it could not provide fully robust estimates of the pay levels for FE teachers or pay differentials between FE teachers and comparators due to limited data (Lake et al., 2018[19]).

← 11. Results from an OLS regression analysis among VET teachers and general education teachers across countries in 2014 SES data. The logarithm of monthly wages (of full-time teachers) is regressed on a dummy of teacher type, contract type (permanent, temporary and apprenticeship), gender, education level (4 groups), age (6 groups), tenure (5 groups), ownership (public versus private) and country fixed effects. The results show that vocational education teachers earn 3.8% lower wages than general education teachers per month, with this differences being statically significant at the 1% level. The regression includes 77 379 observations. Similar results are obtained when looking at hourly wages (and controlling for whether they work full time or part time) or annual wages (full-time teachers working at least 50 weeks in the reference year).

← 12. Results from an OLS regression of the logarithm of monthly wages (of full-time VET teachers) on contract type (permanent, temporary and apprenticeship), gender, education level (4 groups), age (6 groups), tenure (5 groups), ownership (public versus private) and country fixed effects. The regression includes all VET teachers in countries with available data in SES 2014 (21 771 observations). The results show that male VET teachers earn more than female VET teachers, and those with a permanent contract more than those with a temporary contract. Wages also increase with age and tenure. Higher educated teachers (ISCED 5 or above) have higher wages than those with an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary degree.

← 13. The reasons why VET teachers in France have a higher level of salaries need to be further analysed.

← 14. Full-time teachers/tutors and leaders in sixth form colleges (SFCs) had higher salaries on average, than full-time teaching staff and leaders working in adult and community learning (ACL) providers and independent training providers (ITPs). This difference is driven by the level of qualifications, orientation of teaching subjects and work experience. For example, teachers/tutors in SFCs (which tend to teach more academic subjects) were the most likely to hold qualified teacher status and a teaching qualification at International Standard Classification in Education (ISCED) Level 7, or master’s level (86%). In contrast, the majority (64%) of teaching staff in ITPs (which tend to teach more VET subjects) had a teaching qualification at ISCED Levels 3 or 4 (upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary), and these teaching staff had a greater amount of industry experience. The most common highest teaching qualification among ACL teachers/tutors was at ISCED Level 7 (38%) (IFF Research, 2020[6]).

← 15. In ITPs, 31% of teaching staff were not satisfied with opportunities for career development, while this was the case for 48% of teaching staff in ACLs and 63% in SFCs. (IFF Research, 2020[6]).

← 16. Analysis by VET and general education teachers was limited. However, the analysis of three countries show the positive relationship between the desire to stay in the teaching profession and satisfaction with salary and the terms of the employment contract.

← 17. This used to only be offered to VET teachers, but has now been expanded to some subjects in general education track too.

← 18. Working in multiple schools could be the result of teachers taking advantage of opportunities for horizontal diversification in teaching careers, as they take on specific responsibilities across a number of schools in some education systems. However, working in more than one school increases the demands on teachers and takes time from class preparation, building long-term relationships with colleagues outside the classroom, collaboration with other teachers and other valuable activities. In addition, teachers working in multiple schools may not be doing so voluntarily, but because they are in a less senior and more precarious position.

← 19. As there are no specific national criteria for teacher quality, teachers’ appraisals are based on legislation that applies to all public servants and school leaders’ professional judgement.

← 20. In FE colleges, 93% of teachers held a teaching qualification, with 45% having an ISCED Level 7 qualification; 41% of teachers held teaching professional status; 64% of teachers had relevant industry experience (Thornton et al., 2018[4]). In SFCs, 81% of teachers/tutors held a teaching status, 86% were qualified to Level 7 and 36% had work experience outside of education. In contrast, 15% of teaching staff in ITPs held a teaching status, 64% were qualified to Level 3-4, and 62% had work experience outside of education (IFF Research, 2020[6]).

← 21. State (Perkins) approved and elective VET programmes and industrial technology programmes.

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