There will be a shortage of around 72,500 skilled workers in day-care centers by 2025 and 65,600 educators in schools for all-day education by 2029. There will be a shortage of 17,300 teachers for general education schools by 2030, and 13,200 at vocational schools.

The lack of pedagogical specialists is a central finding of the ninth national education report, which was published in Berlin on Thursday.

“The question of personnel requirements is one of the most pressing,” says Kai Maaz, Managing Director of the Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education and spokesman for the group of authors of “Education in Germany 2022”. Maaz foresees “distribution battles” for skilled workers: “When we say we need 200,000 additional workers for the education sector in the coming years, the industry says: We need 200,000 mechatronics technicians.”

The focus of this year’s education report, which the Federal Ministry of Education and the Conference of Ministers of Education commissioned from a consortium of five educational research institutes and the statistical offices of the federal and state governments, is an analysis of educational staff. Other areas of the report, which has been published every two years since 2006, are trends in educational participation and attainment, educational inequalities and the status of digitization.

The other central findings are each related to the large need for staff at almost all levels of education – and to the effects of the corona pandemic.

longer at school

A bitter finding of the previous education report from 2020 was: The rate of those who leave school without any qualifications had risen slightly – to 6.8 percent as of 2019, and the following year even one percentage point was added. But then the curve bends downwards: In the first year of Corona, the proportion of school leavers without a degree was 5.9 percent.

The educational researchers suspect that this could be due to “simplified examination modalities” in the pandemic, or – also due to the corona situation – extended school attendance due to uncertain times. For the first time, the education report includes a value that further puts the still dramatic proportion of under-18s without a secondary school qualification into perspective: by the age of 20, only 1.5 percent have no qualifications.

Apparently, the vocational schools are the salvation for many here: Those who cannot find a training place are put on hold there and, after frustrating failures at secondary school, make a new start towards graduation. But there is also a massive shortage of teachers at vocational schools. Overall, strategies are being sought to bring more teacher training students and career changers to the universities, to keep them during their studies and later, if possible, full-time in their jobs.

Full-time and educational inequality

The all-day offers are also about longer school times; they are intended to help compensate for family and socially-related educational inequalities through more lessons and social activities in the afternoon. But there is a problem with the expansion: 54 percent of primary school children attend all-day offers, but the need of the parents is 63 percent.

According to educational researcher Kai Maaz, there are also quality problems. The all-day offer has grown strongly overall. “But the whole day could do more to compensate for learning deficits,” says Maaz.

This also applies to early childhood education, where an additional 662,000 day care workers have been hired since 2010, an increase of 75 percent. The expansion went hand in hand with the nationwide introduction of educational plans for three to six-year-olds, but these are not mandatory in the vast majority of states, Maaz laments.

He misses a curriculum like that in Great Britain, where the number range up to 20 is taught before school starts. In this country, there is often a lack of qualifications or conviction on the part of daycare workers, and the requirements must be standardized here.

The nationwide educational standards in schools also remained “without consequences”. If a fifth of the children in a 2nd grade still have problems with certain parts of their learning, they continue with the material that builds on it. “In this way we reproduce educational inequality,” criticizes Maaz.

The National Education Report cannot provide any reliable information on the extent to which the months of school closures caused by the pandemic have exacerbated social inequalities. The first findings of comparative work in the federal states, according to which the reading skills of fourth graders fell between 2016 and 2021, “cannot be attributed solely to the pandemic,” they say.

Preliminary results of the nationwide IQB country comparison on the German and mathematics performance of fourth graders will be published at the beginning of July this year, announced Karin Prien, President of the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) and Minister of Education in Schleswig-Holstein, on Thursday at the presentation of the education report. Then you will know more.

Less in dual training, longer studies

Another consequence of the pandemic is obvious: The education report blames “strong uncertainties at the transitions in the education system” for the fact that between 2019 and 2021 seven percent fewer young people started vocational training. On the one hand, companies in the hospitality industry hired fewer trainees because some of them were closed due to Corona. On the other hand, young people prefer to stay in school longer to wait out the pandemic. Or they decided to study.

However, academization is no longer advancing: while the rate of an age cohort taking up university studies was still 31 percent in 2005, it has meanwhile risen to just over 50 percent – and has recently “come to a standstill” at 47 percent. At the same time, the number of university graduates fell by six percent from 2019 to 2020. The educational researchers suspect the reason in corona-related extended study times and postponed exams.

Problems with digitization

The digitization push caused by the pandemic is beyond question, but the education report finds interesting differences. The contact between daycare centers, parents and children often broke off because only a third of the facilities used digital formats.

In adult education, the adult education centers are lagging behind, in the first lockdown in 2020 only a fraction of the courses were offered digitally. 33 percent of city dwellers were able to use digital offers for further vocational training, compared to only 22 percent in rural areas.

Main author Maaz misses “sustainable digitization” in schools. So far, it has hardly been possible to “reach learning groups with special support needs with individualized digital offers”. This is also problematic in view of the shortage of teachers.

The country needs more teachers

The numbers that clearly show the additional need for teachers also include this: the group of under-six year olds has grown by 16 percent compared to 2010, and in the city states of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen it is even 25 percent. And 40 percent of them have a migration background.

But where are the many primary school teachers supposed to come from to teach them in the near future in order to compensate for social and educational disadvantages?

A large number of urgently needed measures can be derived from the reactions of state representatives to the education report: More students must be encouraged to teach in primary and special schools, but also for vocational schools, and young high school teachers must be qualified for primary school, the transition from other degrees must be facilitated and promoted be anchored in the universities.

A major problem is also dropping out of studies in the teaching profession – or dropping out during and shortly after the traineeship. Earlier ones could help. longer and motivating practical phases during your studies.

The federal states have already launched programs, especially for more STEM students. 2023 should then become a kind of campaign year – with the “focus on recruiting teachers” for the new KMK presidency and for the Standing Scientific Commission of the Ministers of Education.

KMK President Karin Prien (CDU) and Federal Minister of Education Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) thanked the group of authors of the Federal Education Report for the empirical results that showed the status quo of the education system. The report helps education policy “to make decisions that go beyond ideology,” says Prien.

Stark-Watzinger sounded a little more self-critical: “We need this data because we need to know where we are going – and how and where we are using the money to give young people educational opportunities.”

Both ministers emphasized programs such as “School makes you strong” for schools in deprived areas when it comes to balancing out social disparities. The coalition agreement also provides “opportunity budgets” for such schools and funds for more social workers, as Stark-Watzinger emphasized.

However, Prien admitted that there was “still a lot of catching up to do”. This is also the case with the “Catching up after Corona” funded by the federal government with two billion euros. Prien sees a need for additional funding beyond this school year – and thus for more money from the federal government. Stark-Watzinger didn’t go into this at the press conference, but did let a slight dissatisfaction with the federal states through out: “There is a lot of initiative in the catch-up program, but does it achieve its goals?”

The program started a year ago – without an accompanying scientific study to measure the effects on the students. Prien regretted this and explained that quick help in the schools was a priority. “In the future, however, we will have to commission evaluations from the outset.”