Young people consider teacher education to be of high quality and the job of a teacher to be meaningful
Young people of upper secondary school age see teacher education and the work of teachers in a positive light. Young people’s perception of the nature of the job of a teacher and its role in society are aspects that young people find particularly appealing. The number of applicants in teacher education were on a downward path between 2015 and 2019. Young people believe that the deteriorating working conditions in schools have dimmed the appeal of becoming a teacher. The positive news is that in 2020 the number of applicants has risen again. This can be seen in the report on the attractiveness of teacher education published on Wednesday 9 September. The study examined which factors increase the attractiveness of teacher education and which ones reduce it. More than 6,300 general upper secondary school students participated in the study
The bedrock of Finnish competence and education is in equitable education. Finland needs a sufficient number of professional and competent teachers to ensure a high level of education throughout the country. Securing a sufficient supply of teachers partly depends on how appealing the job of a teacher seems.
For a long time, teacher education has been a popular field of study for applicants. The number of applicants for teacher education has been falling from 2015 to 2019, and this has given rise to concerns and public debate. For this reason, the Ministry of Education and Culture decided to commission a study into it.
Young people feel that the job of a teacher is important
Young people appreciate the work of teachers and feel that it is important. This is the most important reason for applying for teacher education. Young people feel that the job of teachers is meaningful because teachers work with children and young people together to create a better future for society and the world. Young people also feel that teacher education and the work of teachers are generally appreciated. Young people considered teacher education to be of high quality, which helps make teacher education more appealing.
Young people feel that machines cannot replace a human teacher. They feel that online learning environments or artificial intelligence do not make the work of teachers less meaningful. Young people see digitalisation in a positive light and feel it offers opportunities to develop education.
Young people feel that the perception of poorer working conditions of teachers in schools has made working as a teacher less attractive
Based on the survey data, the greatest doubts young people have are related to the perception that teachers’ working conditions in schools have deteriorated. In their opinion, the cuts in resources have made the work of teachers more difficult. They estimate that a lot of time goes into tasks other than teaching.
“The best way to make sure that teacher education remains attractive in the future is to safeguard the working conditions of teachers,” said Professor Hannu L. T. Heikkinen, leader of the research team.
The study examined the impact of media on young people's perceptions of the job of a teacher. The results show that the media portrays schools and teachers in a negative light. On the other hand, young people feel that they are getting a positive picture of the job of a teacher through social media.
The number of applicants has risen – more cooperation, information on career choices and mentoring
The researchers also examined how the number of applicants has evolved over the past six years. According to statistical data on applicants, with the exception of teacher education in early childhood education and care, applicant numbers have increased in 2020.
In its report, the group of researchers proposed further measures to make sure teacher education remains an appealing career choice. According to the researchers, national student admissions choices have progressed in the right direction. The study also confirmed that teachers need support in the early stages of their careers. The researchers indicate that close cooperation between higher education institutions and general upper secondary schools is more important than before.
Guidance for studies and student counsellors play an important role in improving the dissemination of information about teacher education and study opportunities. The researchers take the view that it is necessary to continue monitoring how the attractiveness of teacher education evolves.
Boosting the appeal of teacher education is important
Annika Saarikko, Minister of Science and Culture, is pleased that the research results highlight both the strengths and challenges of teacher education and the work of teachers.
“Being a teacher has always been an attractive and appreciated job in Finland. We must work together to make sure that teacher education remains an attractive and meaningful choice for those planning their higher education, said Saarikko.
“The good news is that the five-year downward trend in the number of applicants in teacher education stopped this year. Let us rejoice in this and hope that the change augurs a more permanent trend. I'm sure there are many reasons for the change. One reason may be that efforts have been made in recent years to develop teacher education. Moreover, the importance of teachers for society has been acclaimed in public in the crisis situation,” Saarikko said.
The study on the attractiveness of teacher education is a project that was launched by the Ministry of Education and Culture and was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä.
- Markus Ylimaa, Special Adviser, email: [email protected]
- Professor Hannu L.T. Heikkinen, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä, tel. +358 50 342 1346 email: [email protected]
- Sanna Vahtivuori-Hänninen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 134, email: [email protected]
Heikkinen, H. L. T., Utriainen, J., Markkanen, I., Pennanen, M., Taajamo, M. ja Tynjälä, P. 2020. Attractiveness of teacher education – Final report. Reports of the Ministry of Education and Culture (In Finnish, summary i English)