Germany's education system is facing the "biggest shortage of teachers in 50 years" as a result of education policy failures, the country's teachers' association said on Friday.
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The problem is largely "self-made," association president Heinz-Peter Meidinger told the Rheinische Post newspaper. The number of new teachers has been continually declining in recent decades.
There are currently 12,000 vacant teaching positions in Germany, according to a survey among the state ministries of education and cultural affairs, conducted by Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).
According to the teachers' association, the figure could be as high as 40,000. At many schools, lessons have been cancelled in advance due to the shortage of teachers, leading to significant under-reporting.
Due to its aging population, Germany is also lacking skilled workers in other areas, according to a study published by the German Economic Institute (IW) on Friday. This shortage is set to increase in the near future.
"We have to make attractive offers, above all to older people, so that they voluntarily work longer -- also part-time if they wish," study author Alexander Burstedde said. "Otherwise, work will be left undone more and more often in the future."
However, the German government has no plans to raise the retirement age. Doing so would be "wrong and unfair because that would mean a real pension cut for many people who simply can't work that long," said Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil at the end of last year.
Instead, the government is seeking to attract more workers from abroad by easing residency rules. In addition, income thresholds for the Blue Card for work migration are to be lowered, and a so-called opportunity card for people with high potential is to be introduced.