Recruitment crisis

Teacher shortages are affecting Australia

With a teaching recruitment crisis looming Down Under, Tim Waley looks at the results of a recent Tes survey that shows how important PD is for candidates.

The crisis is real and it’s urgent

As we all know, teacher recruitment and retention across the globe is always challenging.

However, for schools operating in Australia, it is particularly difficult right now. The pandemic has dramatically affected the number of teachers available, with border closures and travel restrictions making the supply of teachers a huge issue. Even though things are getting back to normal with visas and travel, there is still a shortfall and one that will take a long while to address.

Therefore, attracting good staff and retaining them is even more important than ever before. Previous studies have shown that by offering staff the right support, training and opportunities schools can improve retention and position themselves as an employer of choice.

Teacher recruitment targets in Australia

The Australian Government has recently asked that Departments of Education across all states have to commit to creating a strategic plan showing how they will tackle the current teacher shortage, by December 2022. Meanwhile the Federal Government has committed to helping the flow of international teachers into the country by speeding up the International Visa process.

So, what’s the link with Professional Development?

A recent survey of teachers across Australia has highlighted significant concerns about the professional development they receive, vital for schools and pupils’ education.

More than half of Australian teachers surveyed (52%) feel that they do not have the right training resources to grow in their current role.

The survey was carried out by education giant Tes, provider of recruitment, classroom software and over 14,000 Australian curriculum-aligned teaching resources.

The survey also found that more than two thirds (69%) of teachers surveyed agreed that professional development is very important for their current role.

Almost half (46%) say professional development courses have enhanced their confidence in the classroom. However, most worryingly, over a third (35%) say that their school does not support and recognise their professional development plans.

The vast majority of teachers say that professional development influences their career choices. 5 out of 6 teachers (84%) say that a school that offers and supports professional development is a more attractive employer for them.

The role of PD in meeting the recruitment challenge

I’ve had more than 30 years of experience as a principal in Australia, the Middle East and Asia and have recently been working with a range of experts on the topic of retention, so understand the challenges that the Australian education sector faces right now.

With many Australian schools struggling with the “attraction, retention and advancement” of teachers, these survey findings show that teachers really value their professional development. There is no doubt that the schools that offer a blend of high quality online and in-person training will attract and retain high calibre staff. This is especially pertinent in the current tight recruitment market.

As 84% of teachers say that this offer would make a potential employer more attractive to them, it’s a no-brainer for schools to develop their existing staff, to enhance their confidence, develop their skills and improve the quality of education that students receive.

The extent of the teacher recruitment crisis in Australia is well known. If Australian schools can retain more of their own teachers by improving the professional development they offer, they are much more likely to achieve the student:teacher ratios that we all know benefit every student.

Finding relevant PD solutions

We’ve been working with Ian Holden who also has 30 years of senior leadership experience gained working in Australian and UK schools. His experiences range from being School Principal of one of Australia’s leading primary schools (Newington College Preparatory School Sydney) to providing expert advice, consultancy, and support to leaders across all schooling sectors as an Advisory School Principal.

In his role as Professional Development consultant for Tes, he has been working with us to provide guidance to schools on the topic of personal development (PD).

His recent webinar explained how schools can embed a programme of professional development suitable for teachers at all levels and discussed how schools can use PD to become an employer of choice – attracting the best candidates and improving their retention rates.

The scale of the crisis

It’s also frightening to note that a recent report in the Australian education news site The Educator noted that;

“According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, 21% more students will begin school in 2030 compared with 2021, but recent studies show that almost half of teachers are considering calling it quits, threatening a major disparity in teacher-student ratios in schools across Australia.”

This could be a disaster for the country. In summary, in Australia. But here, as elsewhere schools that tackle their professional development plans more strategically and on a longer basis term will be in a better position to recruitment and retain the best staff.

As our recent Australian professional development survey showed, candidates are looking at a school’s PD offering when they’re considering a new role: 84% of teachers stated that a school that offers and supports professional development is a more attractive employer.


Tim Waley  is an Executive Consultant at Tes Australia & NZ  with more than 30 years of experience as a principal in Australia, the Middle East and Asia. He has served as president of Independent Schools Tasmania, as an ISCA board member, an AHISA member and in a variety of capacities on state education bodies.

To download a copy of the full Tes Report, ‘Professional Development – what is the state of play?’ click here

To watch the webinar ‘Professional Development: the link to recruitment & retention’ click here.


Feature Image: by mcmurryjulie from Pixabay

Graphics kindly provided by Tim