The Latvian Education and Science Workers' Trade Union (LIZDA) said that the consequences of several years of unsolved problems are currently apparent, but the year of the pandemic and the new competencies approach have been a reason for teachers to retire and leave work at the pre-retirement age. LIZDA Chair Inga Vanaga said she had not faced such a spike in vacancies in the six years she has been heading the union.
Vanaga said: "Since I've been running LIZDA, no year has, in my opinion, been so saturated with job advertisements, not even at the end of the school year. And it is no longer just in rural areas – it is the big republic cities – the big municipalities where there is a more competitive salary, and even they have problems with providing teachers. And I think these are the consequences."
In Vanaga's view, it is not just a matter of wages, balanced load, and professional support, but also a political prestige that has had a profound impact on workers. The teachers have burned out professionally, and it was most illuminated last school year when it came to introducing a skills approach and also teaching children remotely.
However, the lack of educators is linked to the aging of the industry. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also pointed to the average age of teachers in Latvia, which is higher than the average of OECD countries.
“Part also [left work] because of professional fatigue and they are mostly retirement or pre-retirement-age [teachers] who can take advantage of early retirement opportunities. But we also have members who have informed us that if vaccination is made compulsory, then we have to consider that another part will end the legal relationship,” Vanaga said.
Currently, LIZDA is looking forward to offers by the new Minister for Education and Science, Anita Muižniece (New Conservative Party) to tackle the issue deeper.