A school hallway with lockers and students in the background
File photo. Credit: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Principal shortage looms for schools

1:38 min

Almost half the nation's school principals are set to retire over the next 10 years, and schools are struggling to recruit new ones.

According to estimates from the Teachers Union Lärarförbundet, 40% of school principals nationwide will retire over the next 10 years. In some areas, the situation is more extreme, like Västernorrland and Jämtland in the north, the island of Gotland, and Stockholm, where about 50% of principals will be retiring throughout the decade.

But it's getting harder and harder for publicly run schools to recruit principals. In Nynäshamn, outside of Stockholm, in order to keep schools open, the municipality had to rely on a staffing company to supply them with three principals. But that costs a lot more than bringing principals on permanently - about a half a million kronor per year more.

One reason it may be so hard to recruit principals is that their job may encompass too much, according to Anna Eriksson, acting head of schools for Nynäshamn. In an email, she told Radio Sweden, "The role may have become too wide. In addition to being an educational leader, the head master is expected to be able to manage economics and staff. Unfortunately, not only strategic but operational."

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