Education association: teacher shortage worse than known

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The education union VBE doubts the forecasts of the Conference of Ministers of Education. © Caroline Seidel/dpa

The shortage of teachers is one of the ongoing issues in education policy. Now an association is presenting new figures. The problem is therefore much larger than previously assumed.

According to a study by the education union VBE, in Germany there will be a significantly larger shortage of teachers in the coming years than previously known.

The association assumes that in the years up to 2030, around 81,000 fewer teachers will be available than are needed.

The shortage would be significantly larger than assumed by the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) in their forecasts. The Education and Training Association (VBE) presented the study on Tuesday.

The VBE chairman Udo Beckmann called the previous KMK model calculations for the new offer of trained teachers by 2030 “dubious”. The assumptions are not covered by the development of student numbers in teacher training courses, nor by the number of school graduates in the coming years.

The educational researcher Klaus Klemm, who was commissioned with the study, took a closer look at the KMK forecasts on the so-called need for teacher recruitment, which bring together the corresponding feedback from the federal states. The latest forecast from 2020 assumes that around 363,000 teachers will have to be hired in the coming years and that there will be a supply of almost 350,000 graduates. This results in a mathematical teacher gap of 13,000.

Klemm called the calculations on the supply side “adventurous”. The supply of teachers is massively overestimated. About half of countries would simply continue current graduate offerings through 2030, regardless of what might change. He specifically criticized the figures from Saxony, where the forecast number of graduates in the coming years corresponds exactly to the number of teachers needed. Mathematically, there is no teacher gap at all.

For his own calculations, the educational researcher used the number of school leavers with general higher education entrance qualifications and the proportion of them who take up and complete a teaching degree. On the basis of this calculation, at 286,000, the offer is significantly lower than the 350,000 new teachers calculated by the federal states. With a requirement of 367,000 teachers calculated by Klemm, there is a gap of 81,000.

The VBE also referred to the planned all-day expansion, the additional need for special needs teachers and the support of schools in so-called social hotspots planned by the traffic light government. According to the study, a further 74,000 teachers are needed for these measures. The numbers of the KMK disguised the actual need for teachers, criticized Beckmann.

The President of the KMK, Schleswig-Holstein’s Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU), said on Tuesday that all 16 states are aware of the situation and are taking state-specific measures. “The bottleneck that was already forecast in the past will be exacerbated by the consequences of rising birth rates and immigration and much more. Such study results are not new to us and we keep an eye on developments.”

Prien added that the methodical further development of the forecasts is being worked on continuously. An updated projection of teacher needs is expected to be presented in the spring.

In total, there are around 40,000 schools and vocational schools in Germany, around eleven million students and more than 800,000 teachers. The shortage of teachers is not distributed equally across all types of school: According to the figures from the Conference of Ministers of Education, the situation will remain tense in the coming years, especially in the lower secondary level – i.e. above primary school. An annual undersupply is also expected at vocational schools. In contrast, there is a surplus of teachers at grammar schools. A trend reversal towards an oversupply is expected at primary schools from mid-2025. dpa

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