In hardly any other area has so much been invested in personnel in the past ten years as in education. And yet daycare centers and schools are heading for an unprecedented undersupply in the next few years. This is one of the central findings of the ninth national report on education, presented on Thursday by a group of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF).

A total of 2.6 million people were employed in the education sector in 2020, around six percent of all employees. There was a strong increase in personnel, especially in early education. With 662,000 people, 75 percent more skilled workers work in day-care centers than in 2010, a direct result of the increased demand for day-care centers. At the universities, the increase in staff was 25 percent, at general schools three percent.

However, the number of employees is far from sufficient, as the report states. Accordingly, by 2025 there will be a shortage of 72,500 skilled workers in the day-care centers alone. In the schools, the official estimates of demand total a good 30,000 teachers by 2030, who will be missing. And if the legal entitlement to an all-day offer in elementary school takes effect in 2026, 65,600 skilled workers will also be needed for this by 2030.

The shortage of skilled workers in the education sector fits seamlessly into the overall tense labor market situation. “We are currently experiencing distribution struggles on the training and labor market. These will continue to increase in the future,” said Kai Maaz, Executive Director of the DIPF and spokesman for the research group. “Of course you need teachers. But mechatronics engineers are also needed.”

Against the background of the lack of staff, new forms of teaching and learning must also be considered – such as digital formats. In addition, it must be examined what conditions must be offered to teachers in order to persuade them to switch from part-time to full-time.

A path that the President of the Conference of Ministers of Education, Karin Prien (CDU), also advocates. The compatibility of family and work is important. “I do believe that we need to look at the extent to which very small part-time workloads are compatible with the teaching profession,” Prien said at the presentation of the report. But there is also no way around the further employment of lateral entrants. “We cannot afford not to use these teachers,” said Stefan Kühne, head of the DIPF department. “We should attract and qualify every person who is interested in teaching.”

This is necessary above all in order to break up the connection between social background and educational success, which is still cemented to a certain extent. “Inequality starts early,” says Maaz. An example of this is the day-care center attendance rate for small children under the age of three: Children whose parents have a high level of education attend a day-care center at 38 percent, significantly more often than children whose parents have a medium (29 percent) or low (18 percent) level of education to have.

The pronounced social disparities then run through the entire school career. The difference in performance between socially weak and strong students in German and mathematics is already a whole year of learning in the fourth school year, as the education report emphasizes. All-day offers at schools did not change that enough, criticized Maaz.

Here often only support is provided instead of competence development; the whole day can therefore often not contribute to compensating for performance deficits. “We will never be able to completely dismantle the connection between social background and educational success,” said the educational researcher. “But we are still doing too little to weaken the connection.”

This also applies to language training. In many federal states there are instruments such as the early assessment of language proficiency. “But this support is by no means mandatory everywhere.” And this despite the fact that 40 percent of all daycare children now have a migration background and every fifth child speaks a language other than German at home. The connection between social background and educational success is also reflected in the qualifications. While 79 percent of children from better-off families graduate from high school, at the lower end of the scale it is only 31 percent.

However, the proportion of young people who leave school without a qualification has fallen and is now 5.9 percent. Most of them still manage to get a school-leaving certificate later, for example at a vocational school. By the age of 20, only 1.5 percent of young adults still have no qualifications. Overall, the educational level of the population has increased over the past decade. In 2010, 21 percent still had a higher professional or academic degree; two years ago it was 26 percent.

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