The UK government tries to fix the shortage of teachers by raising the minimum starting salary to £30,000.
You’d struggle to find an economist who thinks an economy can flourish without teachers. After all, school is where we (hopefully) learn many of the skills that make us into productive workers and well-rounded adults; skills like reading and writing and playing nice with others.
So it’s a bit of a problem that the UK is really struggling to (a) persuade people to become teachers, and (b) keep those who do become teachers from quitting. England and Wales have missed their new teacher targets for the last six years, and half of all teachers quit the profession within a decade. The shortage is particularly bad in poorer areas of the country (which hurts social mobility, as better teachers usually equal better grades) and for core subjects like maths and science.
But the government thinks it has come up with a solution: upping teacher starting salaries. These are going to go up from £23,720 (for everywhere outside of London) to £30,000. That's better than many other graduate jobs, where the average pay was £25,104 this year. And as strategies go, increasing wages seems like a good bet, because many people put a heavy emphasis on money-making when deciding which jobs to apply for.
But money is far from the only thing most employees care about. And when teachers quit, many of them cite overwork, not underpay, as their main reason for bailing. Despite those long holidays, teaching compares pretty unfavourably with other jobs for hours worked: 89 percent of teachers work more than the average full-time employee. (Who the Office of National Statistics reckons clocks in 37 hours a week.)
So how do we get what we need to live? Our livelihoods are our own personal answer to that question, whether it be job in a factory, setting up a start-up, or taking time out to travel. But the economy we live in affects the choices we have in setting up our livelihoods, and we rely on so many other workers around us to be able to do what we do… how do we get the balance right?