- The impact of COVID and other challenges within education are driving teachers to pursue new careers.
- Migrating teachers used to gravitate towards alternative educational programs; however, many are now transferring their skills and knowledge to other sectors.
- Educators possess a wealth of leadership skills and analytical capabilities that could benefit the development of the flexible work sector.
The Great Teacher Migration – why is it happening?
The COVID pandemic both highlighted and exacerbated many of the obstacles that teachers have always confronted. Unrealistic administrative demands, legislative restrictions, under-appreciation, poor remuneration and burnout appear to be the main problems.
Additionally, new health and safety regulations and the novel demands of remote learning during the pandemic also had an impact. The situation was a watershed moment for many teaching professionals.
Experienced teachers possess an extensive portfolio of skills; is it any wonder, therefore, that those leaving the profession are finding gainful employment in other sectors?
Reports indicate that one in four teachers plan to leave (Rand News) – and many of them are considering an entirely different career path. Given that teachers are used to navigating change and uncertainty, surely this new age of hybrid work (remote and in-person) will not faze such highly adaptable people?
Many organizations (especially in the flexible work sector) are realizing the importance of employing those who value and possess the ability to learn, retrain and adapt to frequent change. Teachers possess some of the best management and organizational skills out there and their migration to the flexible work sector may well prove to have a strong impact on the future of work.
Teachers can make a positive contribution to other sectors
In the past, teaching was considered a career for life. Teachers followed a clearly-defined vocational path and were not expected to pursue jobs outside of the profession. There appears to have been a significant shift in attitude and it is now widely accepted that a teacher’s career journey no longer needs to be restricted to the classroom.
Employers are valuing the many transferable skills teachers can bring to other roles and some companies even claim to be teacher-friendly. This approach is clearly encouraging the migration of teachers.
Many teachers choose the profession based on a desire to make a positive impact (some even say that it is a calling). With this in mind, it is not surprising that migrating teachers naturally gravitate to alternative educational initiatives wherein they can still make a valuable contribution to the sector.
Many former teachers are employed by education programs run by public institutions and charities such as museums, theatres, galleries, sports clubs and public libraries. These roles all require management and organizational skills – all abilities that teachers possess in abundance.
A recent Forbes article highlighted the various career opportunities available to teachers and the transferability of teaching skills to other sectors. According to this article, education technology (EdTech) companies appear to be highly successful at attracting and retaining teachers.
EdTech companies often have ethos and organizational values that teachers are happy to align with. Teachers can perform a multitude of roles within these companies (from sales to the development of new e-learning technologies) based on their inside knowledge of the teaching profession and their familiarity with the demands of their target group (essentially schools and students).
Former teachers in these roles are often able to identify gaps in performance and design new learning technologies to improve educational attainment for their clients.
Teachers are also migrating to L & D (learning and development) positions within different sectors. L & D managers are responsible for the development and delivery of bespoke organizational training. This is an area where teachers already excel – given that they are constantly designing educational plans, delivering lessons and developing the learning potential of their students.
Swapping young students for adults from the corporate world requires adaptation to an entirely different audience; however, the fundamental abilities required for an L & D role are closely related. These skills include providing constructive feedback and differentiating the teaching materials for coworkers with different learning styles and needs.
Many companies outside of education recognize that former teachers make excellent training managers and team leaders. As corporate trainers, former teachers could be tasked with planning and delivering training to support the skills-development of their colleagues in the same way that they will have raised the attainment levels of their students.
Teachers will often have additional leadership positions at school (subject leader, senior management, school governor, to name just a few). These roles provide teachers with analytical and problem-solving competencies that lend themselves well to more strategic positions such as human resource management.
Teacher migration will have an impact on the future of work
The skill-set required to teach is evolving alongside developments in education. Advanced digital learning technologies and online educational platforms will require teachers to become technically proficient. There is also a greater need for teachers to possess the ability to develop innovative, creative and collaborative learning in the classroom.
Half of all countries in the European Union are also improving teaching abilities in science, technology and mathematics (STEM). These skills are all essential for the challenges and opportunities that employees and workplaces will face in the future. Teachers who possess this skill-set may be in demand for their ability to develop the skills of employees outside of the classroom.
According to an article in the UK’s Independent Newspaper, two in five teachers predict they will no longer be working in education by 2024 – and almost a fifth of all teachers expect to have left the profession within two years.
Some teachers have seen their passion for teaching overridden by a sense of under-appreciation and being overburdened. Nobody wants to see teachers leaving in such high numbers but until the problems within education are addressed, there will always be too many teachers leaving the profession.
Society would be doing itself a disservice if it did not recognize former teachers as a valuable resource. Teachers who leave the profession should be presented with opportunities to use their expertise to develop and nurture adult potential.
A coworking center and a classroom may seem worlds apart, yet the skills required to work with groups of people in both settings is not dissimilar. Educators are expected to support students to master new subjects according to their unique stage of development– surely, they could do the same for individuals in organizations?
Perhaps we need to see teachers more as a community of managers with transferable skills – a community able to navigate different vocational paths whilst supporting the growth potential of others along the way.