K-12 staff shortages could double quickly. Why businesses want to help

More than three in four of business leaders say their companies could help improve educator preparation.

The “educator talent gap” currently taxing U.S. schools will quickly double unless working conditions improve and district leaders can recruit more qualified teachers, a K-12 staffing company warns.

The number of education-related job openings could soar to 854,000 by 2025, while hires will grow to only 336,000, according to the latest Education Workforce Insights Report by Kelly Education. That gap of 518,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors and other educators equates to one staff member missing for every 100 students, the company says.

“America’s education system is at a turning point, and how we choose to respond will impact the success of students, their families, our communities, and our economy at large,” said Nicola Soares, president of Kelly Education. “The good news is, there is broad consensus around solutions that can improve the profession.”

National, real-time K-12 vacancy data does not currently exist. Kelly Education’s researchers analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey to forecast the size of the looming educator talent gap. The report also considers the challenge from a unique perspective—that of local business communities, who, according to Kelly Education’s polling, are deeply concerned that the educator shortage will negatively impact the current and future workforce.

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More than nine in 10 business leaders among 2,000 surveyed warned that the educator talent gap will leave coming generations of students unprepared for the workforce. Most of those entrepreneurs are therefore urging policymakers to “make the education profession more accessible, rewarding, and sustainable.” Many of the solutions they recommend are centered on school culture and improving working conditions, such as:

  • Increasing educator pay and benefits
  • Expanding teacher residency and mentoring programs
  • Improving in-school mental and behavioral health services for students and educators
  • Strengthening school security
  • Paying a national tuition subsidy for prospective educators pursuing credentials in education
  • Creating more alternative certification pathways for teachers

However, the business leaders aren’t putting all the burden on policymakers. More than three in four of those surveyed said their companies could contribute more toward improving educator preparation. For example, large majorities said businesses can offer year-round discounts to educators, support affordable housing subsidies and help fund affordable housing for educators and other essential, public-sector employees.

These business leaders also encouraged adults in their communities to take up the cause by, for example, volunteering at their schools, serving as substitutes even temporarily, and voting for political candidates whose platforms include solving teacher and educator shortages.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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