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Teaching vacancies jump in Sweden

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Teaching vacancies jump in Sweden
13:44 CEST+02:00
The number of advertised vacancies for teaching jobs in Sweden has leapt 25 percent over the past year, new figures show, with unions arguing that low salaries are to blame.

As of end June, 29,000 teaching jobs were advertised in Sweden, according to figures from the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), which amounts to 25 percent more than in the first half of last year.

The trend can be seen most clearly among pre-school teachers and recreation instructors, with the number of job vacancies increasing by as much as 44 percent.

The number of vacancies among primary and secondary school teachers has increased by 24 percent.

The sharp increase in pre-school teacher jobs has been explained as being due to an upswing in the birthrate.

"The number of children in Sweden is growing. And population projections show that the baby boom will continue to grow in the coming years," said Marwin Nilsson at the Employment Service's research department.

Qualified pre-school teachers can thus expect to be able to be selective when finding work in the near future.

"They face a favourable labour market in the future, that is true. It is in this group within the profession that we detect a labour shortage, as child care is being expanded so significantly," he said.

The only teacher category which has seen vacancies decline is specialist teachers at high schools (gymnasium), dropping 1 percent.

A further factor contributing to the boom in teaching vacancies is the fact that large numbers are retiring.

In the period up to 2025, between 36 and 66 percent of Sweden's teaching professionals are set to retire.

University and college teachers are at the lower end of this span, with the highest proportion of retirees among special education teachers.

The Swedish Teachers' Union (Lärarförbundet) charts the supply of teachers and vacancies and argues that the current situation is historically significant.

"We have followed the situation for around a decade and this strong growth is unprecedented," Eva-Lis Sirén at the union said.

Sirén argued that the situation is serious, given the fact that fewer are applying to teacher training, while the demand for teachers increases.

"The really serious thing is that major reforms are being carried out in schools and demands on teachers will increase. The reforms are likely to fall flat if no one wants to become a teacher."

Sirén argued that pay levels are a factor that needs to be addressed.

"All those in positions of responsibility have to stop the blame-game and realize that salaries are far too low," she said.

Sirén added that schools in neighbouring Norway have become more attractive to Swedish teachers, due to the higher salaries paid there.

"We can see that teachers are fleeing to Norway. We see this most clearly among pre-school teachers, as it is there that shortages are the greatest," she said.

Even independent schools concern Pysslingen has noticed the shortage of pre-school teachers.

"It is clear that there are fewer applicants for each post. When you find some good candidates there are more employers who are interested in them. So it is clear that pre-school teachers are paying more attention to the salary before they choose, said Pysslingen HR manager Greta Sundin.

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