Latest OECD report endorses work of educators but warns that profession becoming increasingly unattractive

By piofficer, Tuesday, 12th September 2017 | 0 comments

The latest OECD international indicators – Education At A Glance 2017 – endorse the work of Irish teachers and lecturers and highlight the value of educational attainment to both the individual and society.

The report echoes TUI’s recent warning that the profession is becoming less attractive to graduates.

Speaking this morning, TUI President Joanne Irwin highlighted some of the report’s main findings:

Equal pay for equal work

‘The report states that while teachers are the backbone of the education system, the profession is becoming increasingly unattractive to students. The starting salaries for Irish second level teachers set out in the report are lower than the OECD and EU22 averages, but even then, these salaries are based on a contract of full hours. Despite improvements in this regard in recent years, it still takes several years for most second level teachers to build up to a contract of full hours so many recent entrants will still be earning below these amounts.’

‘The report states that labour market prospects, expected salaries and general reputation of teachers are a few of the factors influencing your people’s selection of field of study.’

‘In Ireland, it is becoming increasingly difficult to source teachers in certain subject areas such as Home Economics, Irish, Modern Languages and the Sciences where there are more lucrative and secure employment options elsewhere.’

‘Clearly, restoring pay equality for those teachers employed on or after 1st January 2011 is a critical issue in terms of ensuring that graduates of the highest calibre remain attracted to the profession.’ 

Teaching hours and instruction time

‘At 735 hours at upper secondary, teachers in Irish second level schools teach more than the OECD and European average teaching hours of 662 and 629 respectively. Denmark, Finland, Norway, France and Germany are among the European countries with lower numbers of teaching hours.’

‘Compulsory teaching time in Ireland is 935 hours, higher than the OECD and EU averages of 913 and 892 respectively.’

Participation in education

‘Ireland’s 91% completion rate at upper second level is well above the OECD average of 68%. In this regard, Irish teachers should take credit for continuing to provide a high quality education service in the wake of severe cutbacks.’

‘However, of particular and serious concern is the high percentage of Irish 18-24 year-olds neither in education nor employed (18.2%), which is above the OECD average of 15.3%. Clearly, more options are required for this cohort of young people. Ireland’s public further and adult education sector, which has a proven track record in both providing standalone qualifications and offering routes to further study, should be facilitated in this regard with direct, targeted investment.’ 

Value of education to the individual and society

‘The report affirms that higher educational attainment leads to better work and career prospects and longer life expectancy while society gains through  increased tax and social contributions.’

‘Ireland’s expenditure on educational institutions is 4.8% of GDP, compared to the EU22 average of 4.9% and OECD average of 5.2%.’

‘Once again, this annual report makes clear the compelling argument for increased investment in education.’ 

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