Swiss schools face significant shortage of teachers
In Switzerland, many industries from healthcare to logistics are suffering from a lack of workers. Nowhere is this more true than in Swiss schools, with a report by SRF finding over 6.000 vacancies for teachers across the country.
Swiss schools in rural areas struggle to attract workers
"We haven't received a single response to job advertisements for weeks," said Daniel Gebauer, co-headmaster of the Lauperswil school in Emmental. Schools like his, nestled in the Swiss mountains, are the most profoundly affected by staff shortages, as they are not able to easily attract workers from the cities.
In Canton Bern alone, SRF found that 500 teaching staff are needed, with estimates putting the total figure nationally at around 6.000. The lack of trained staff is blamed on a large number of teachers retiring and too few teachers, particularly women, being trained in higher education.
Schools are having to resort to unqualified teachers
Four of the 35 teachers on staff at the Lauperswil school are students at the local technical university, Gebauer noted: "Without the students, we could no longer keep the school going and would have to combine classes."
To plug the gaps elsewhere, many schools have been forced to employ teachers who are either still in training or are taking a teaching qualification alongside degrees from colleges or universities. These workers usually have lower salaries and tend to be at the end of their training, but the workload makes them unable or slow to complete their qualifications, creating what SRF calls a “neo-teacher.”
An estimated 10 percent of Bern’s female educators are yet to earn a teaching diploma, according to SRF. Gebauer explained, “The teaching is not of the same quality as if a qualified teacher were to take the job. It leaves an uneasy feeling." Gabriel Wenger, a music teacher, said that despite being a master's student in music, he was “naive" to take the job. "How do students learn? Preparing for lessons, in particular, was a black box for me,” he admitted.
Bern educators hope to attract more qualified teachers
Responding to SRF, a spokesperson for the Bern Education Association, Anna-Katharina Zenger, said that full-time training should be required to become a full-time educator. She said that part-time or transfer courses, like those done by neo-teachers, were not enough as, “even in kindergarten, teachers experience highly complex teaching situations.”