7,200 teachers still needed to fill vacancies

2:31 min

The severe lack of teachers continues in Sweden, with over 7,200 vacant teaching positions, according to figures from the National Employment Agency.

Next week, most schools start up again after the summer, but many of them do so without having all the teachers they need. At the end of July, there were over 7,200 unfilled teaching positions in Sweden.

That is down from 7,500 vacancies at the same time last year, but still it is a tall order for the schools to try to fill them in time.

In some regions the situation is worse than others. In Västra Götaland, on the west coast around Gothenburg, the number of unfilled teaching positions have increased by 17 per cent since last year.

Ann-Charlotte Robb is a head teacher at Grevegårdsskolan in Gothenburg. She says it is really hard to recruit teachers these days.

"It is really a teacher's market," she said, with people being able to choose which jobs they take.

"Many times, you have booked an interview with an applicant, who then cancels the day before, because he or she has already got another job,"

One of those who have applied for and found a job during the spring, is Emma Antti in Gothenburg. She is a teacher of maths and science, which are the subjects where the lack of teachers is most acute.

"I have been pretty picky, she says. I wanted to work in a school close to where I live, and I wanted a full time job. I really have been able to choose," she says.

According to statistics from the Swedish council for Higher Education, the number of students who got a place at a teaching training college this autumn has gone up by three per cent compared to last year. But that is partly because the teacher training has expanded in Sweden, because at the same time, the interest in becoming a teacher has gone down, with 2000 fewer applying to teacher training this year, compared to last.

Maria Rönn is the deputy chairman of the Swedish teachers union. She is concerned for the future of teaching and urges the political parties to work more in agreement to try to solve the issues.

"The politicians must stop warring over the schools and instead find joint long-term solutions so that we can have peace to work in the schools. And so that the schools are not seen as a problem area, where no-one wants to work," she says.