Counting Jobs

The recent report from the Migration Advisory Committee was full of lots of useful data. One area of especial interest to me was the analysis the Committee undertook into how the labour market for teachers was functioning. As the Committee has a remit that covers the whole of the United Kingdom and also has to pay especial attention to Scotland, as a result of devolution, it was not a surprise that they commissioned a company that looks at the labour market across all four home nations.

As a result, they used a Boston based company called Burning Glass that studies labour markets across the world. One approach that Burning Glass use is to study the output of job boards as a means of counting vacancies. The results of this for the teacher job market in the United Kingdom can be seen in Figure 4.4 of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report (pages 66 & 67). As the figure notes in the heading, these are figures for teacher job postings.

Now job postings may not be the same as real jobs. There is certainly a possibility that at least some job postings are  actually more of a recruitment tool to attract teachers to sign up to a recruitment agency than the listing of an real vacancy in an actual school, especially when no school is mentioned in the listing. This might be one reason for the apparent uncovering by Burning Glass of what looks like some 4-6,000 job listings in the secondary sector during the August months in both 2015 and 2016, with possibly even higher numbers in the primary sector. I seriously doubt, even across the four nations, whether there were that level of real jobs available in either August 2015 or August 2016.

TeachVac the recruitment matching service I helped found only counts vacancies that can be attached to an actual school. Our numbers for both July and August 2015 and 2016, albeit only for England, but covering both state-funded and private schools, are very much lower than the Burning Glass totals.

As I have said before on this blog, creating a unique job number for every vacancy that was then attached to the vacancy wherever it appeared until the job was filled and allowed identification of whether the vacancy was removed before being filled or filled by a new entrant, a returner, a teacher changing school (part of the churn), a supply teacher or an unqualified person would provide much needed on-going data to improve the discussion about teacher supply. In this day and age it wouldn’t take very long for any school to keep the records up to date. Indeed, TeachVac could already produce lists of vacancies by school that are able to be annotated with the background of the person that filled the vacancy very quickly and easily.

In the Migration Advisory Committee report it is interesting to note that appendix B provides a detailed conversion factor to change the Burning Glass job listing outcomes into to Office of National Statistics equivalent vacancy rates through a two stage process. At TeachVac we measure the flow of real vacancies posted by schools and our only conversion factor is for re-advertisement rates.

Finally, looking through the Migration Advisory Committee report, I note that in Annex D the number of returners in each subject has been estimated. The total for the three subjects used in Annex D comes to 4,800 returners whereas the total for the whole profession, primary, secondary and special is only shown as 14,000 in the preceding Annex C. So, either these three subjects take up nearly a third of the returner totals or one of the sets of numbers may be less than 100% accurate.

At TeachVac we will continue to develop reporting that aims to provide the highest quality data to help understand the workings of the labour market for teachers in England. With sufficient resources we could, like Burning Glass do the same for the whole of the United Kingdom.


More on BREXIT

Tomorrow, the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee reports on its review of teaching. This follows a consultation that closed in September. At present, mathematics and some science teachers are covered by the current Tier2 visa scheme. It will be interesting to see what the report says tomorrow. Although physics is a shortage subject and the ITT targets have been missed ever since science was dis-aggregated into the three subject areas, the issue is less clear cut in mathematics, especially if vacancies are related to the number of trainees. TeachVac submitted evidence to the consultation.

As I have noted before, there is the matter of design and technology and possibly business studies. Both are subjects where training targets have been missed in recent years and the supply of teachers doesn’t seem able to keep up with the demand. This was even in the years when the subjects were unfashionable with Ministers. Presumably, that isn’t the case now the government has an Industrial Strategy. It will be interesting to see if these subjects are mentioned in the MAC’s Report.

On a similar topic of recruiting teachers from overseas, in December the DfE issued tender RFX159 – Supply of teachers qualified outside of England. This specified within the terms:

‘The Contractor must work in consultation with the Client Organisation to prepare a Business Brief, which may include, but not be exclusive to, the following: a. scoping of the work required by the business area in respect of; i) single or multiple recruitment campaigns targeting qualified maths and physics teachers primarily from Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and USA. Further high performing countries subject to agreement. Ii) Any other recruitment and supply of teachers to English schools.’

Now I thought we were about to trigger Article 50 to leave the EU, so it is rather surprising to see the government offering to fund a recruitment campaign in these EU countries. One wonders what France, The Netherlands, Spain and probably several other EU countries may think about not being specifically mentioned. I am sure it isn’t because of any view of the quality of their teachers. Perhaps the DfE just thought there might be a pool of unemployed teachers of these subjects in say the Czech Republic, but not in neighbouring Slovakia or Austria or even Hungary.

The inclusion of the USA is interesting as, unless they have a right to work here, they will need Tier 2 visas.  Presumably, the DfE either knew what the MAC was going to say or assumed the MAC would still be including these two subjects in the Tier 2 scheme. We will know tomorrow. The USA was a country where the qualified teachers were granted the right to QTS by Mr Gove during his period as Secretary of State. In recent years, several hundred teachers from the USA have been granted QTS on the basis of their qualifications according to NCTL data.

Finally, it is worth noting the contractor can be paid ‘for any other recruitment and supply of teachers to English schools.’ This is a very wide brief and can be open to lots of different interpretations.

Overseas teachers help take the strain

Unemployment in Europe may have been been driving teachers to work in England. Figures released today by the DfE as part of the ITT statistics for 2015/16 show that record numbers of teachers from Spain (1,977), Greece (572) and Romania (431) were awarded QTS. There were also 545 teachers from Poland, although that was a small drop on the record number (580) of teachers from Poland recorded as being awarded QTS in 2014/15. Interestingly, only 274 teachers were recorded as being awarded QTS from the Republic of Ireland despite this group of teachers often being cited as helping solve the recruitment crisis.

Of course, being granted QTS doesn’t mean a person is actually teaching in a state-funded school or even a school and no figures have been published for those that originally trained in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland where school systems are increasingly different to those in England.

Although numbers from the Commonwealth countries, with a right to convert a teaching qualification into QTS, were higher in 2015/16 than the previous year, they only totalled 1,652 plus a further 379 that had qualified in the USA and gained QTS under the Gove changes. There may, however, be others teaching on a temporary basis that haven’t bothered to obtain QTS. Overall, 5,032 teachers from overseas were shown as being granted QTS in 2015/16. There isn’t a breakdown by either primary or secondary, or by subject, or where in the country they were teaching. All potentially useful facts to help understand the use of overseas teachers.

Many of these teachers will be subject to visa restrictions once the UK leaves the EU, if free movement of people is restricted. It would have been interesting to have seen the data on tier 2 visas issues by the Home Office as a part of this statistical bulletin. As far as I am aware, the Migration Advisory Committee has yet to rule on the future of teaching and tier 2 visas.

The data issued today in the ITT census will make it more of a challenge to retain either biology or chemistry in the list of eligible subjects, as biology exceeded recruitment targets by 15% and chemistry recruited to 99% of their target. Physics, although more trainees were recruited than last year, remains a challenge with 19% under-recruitment. In mathematics, the target was increased by 500, so although more trainees were recruited there was still a 16% shortfall against target. Whether this is enough to keep the subject as a Tier 2 visa subject depends upon whether the evidence on vacancies and trainee numbers indicate a shortfall in numbers. I guess everyone agrees there are issues to do with quality and there are clearly regional shortfalls. However, the MAC usually only considers the national picture.

As recruitment for 2017 has already started a decision on any changes to visa regulations is really needed quite soon if there is not to be confusion for September 2017. The influx of teachers from overseas is the other side of the coin of teachers from England going to teach elsewhere in the world. On these figures the outflow is likely to be larger than the numbers recruited from overseas.