A teacher and third-graders in a classroom in Helsinki on 3 September 2021. Over a half of teachers have considered changing careers in the past 12 months, according to a survey by the Trade Union of Education (OAJ). (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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OVER A HALF of Finnish teachers have mulled over a career change during the coronavirus epidemic, finds a survey conducted by the Trade Union of Education (OAJ).

The survey found that as many as 57 per cent of teachers, including 63 per cent of teachers in early-childhood and 59 per cent of teachers in basic education, have mulled over a career change in the past year.

Over four-fifths (83%) of the 2,619 respondents cited the burdensome nature of their work, over two-thirds (67%) their increased workload and half (50%) their wage level as a reason for considering a career change. Olli Luukkainen, the chairperson at OAJ, on Tuesday demanded that policy makers take immediate action to tackle the problems that are driving teachers away from the field.

Only roughly a third of teachers said they were considering a career change in June.

“It appears that a really dramatic change has taken place in a couple of months. This is frankly an emergency. Every decision-maker and employer must stop to consider how harsh the consequences will be for the entire society if teachers, headmasters and kindergarten instructors start changing careers in high numbers,” said Luukkainen.

The coronavirus epidemic, he estimated, has exacerbated malaise among teachers by stretching the learning and well-being gap and adding to what was already an unreasonable burden at work.

“Teachers and superiors in the field hung in there for a long time and kept schools, kindergartens and education institutions open also during the state of emergency. Teachers, who are already shouldering an enormous workload, have noticed this autumn how much additional work it will require to bridge the learning and well-being gap arising from the coronavirus era,” analysed Luukkainen.

“They are simply out of energy and their feeling of control has dwindled. That is why many teachers are considering whether they can keep at this and want to continue in this field.”

Solutions to the problems exist, as long as employers and decision-makers have the willingness to adopt them, according to OAJ.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT