More proof that required skill sets are on the slide

Mary Fogarty
Research Officer

Shortages of teachers qualified in key fields.

Research from the inaugural National Teacher Workforce Dataset highlights the need for governments to develop policy to attract the skill sets necessary to deliver desired curriculum and outcomes.

The research, funded by the Australian Government through the Teacher Quality National Partnership, shows younger teachers have a lower proportion of science qualifications than their older peers; they prefer qualifications in creative arts.

This fits with schools reporting shortages in teachers qualified in science, mathematics and English.

The dataset reported on 440,313 members of the teaching workforce.

There are 313,791 ‘known employed’ teachers. The teaching workforce most commonly has qualifications in the fields of society and culture, and the natural and physical sciences. These qualifications are at all levels from Certificate I to Doctoral degrees.

The data suggests the 126,522 ‘additional registrants’ have equally broad ranging qualifications, though these are often to a higher level. By registering as teachers, these teachers demonstrate their ongoing commitment to education; governments should employ these teachers to improve educational outcomes.

Another fact recorded in the dataset is that the median age across the teaching workforce is 44 years. Some teachers have more than 60 years’ experience with their current employer.

In some jurisdictions, the challenge to address an ageing workforce is more pointed than others. Younger teachers make up more of the fixed term and casual workforce. This may indicate their desire for greater workplace flexibility but it may also indicate difficulties in finding ongoing employment. Teachers who desire greater employment stability may look outside education to meet this need.

Three percent of the Australian population identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander yet the dataset shows less than 2 per cent of the teaching workforce identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Increasing the number of teachers identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is already a strategic imperative for federal, state and territory governments.

Other statistics in the dataset are:

  • three-quarters of teachers are female
  • 13 per cent of teachers aged 30–39 are on extended leave, and 92 per cent of them are women
  • teachers were born in 193 different countries.

The dataset was compiled by Ernst & Young using data supplied by teacher employers and registration bodies.