The teaching profession is facing a challenging shift as more and more young adults are choosing alternative career paths, having witnessed the struggles educators encounter and the allure of other income-generating opportunities. In this engaging article, we will delve into the key reasons behind this trend and its potential impact on the education sector, while highlighting opportunities for schools and communities to overcome these challenges and ensure a bright future for students.
Here are the possible factors contributing to this trend and its implications for the education sector.
Challenges faced by teachers: High school students often witness the difficulties and struggles teachers face, such as high workloads, demanding performance expectations, and limited resources. These observations can deter them from pursuing teaching as a career. Teachers are usually expected to work long hours, which may include planning lessons, grading assignments, and attending meetings outside of regular teaching hours. The increased workload and stress can be a deterrent for young people considering a career in education (source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2021).
Low pay: Teaching jobs are notorious for offering relatively low pay compared to other professions, which may discourage young adults from entering the field. Teaching is typically perceived as a low-paying profession compared to other careers. According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in the U.S. was $39,249 in 2019-2020, which is significantly lower than the average starting salary for other professions with similar education requirements (source: NEA, 2020). This financial disparity can make teaching less attractive to young people who may be burdened with student loan debt.
Lack of professional growth and advancement opportunities: In today's society, money is often seen as the primary indicator of success. The teaching profession may be perceived as offering limited opportunities for career advancement compared to other fields. In many educational systems, promotion opportunities are primarily based on seniority, which can make it difficult for young teachers to advance quickly. This perception can lead young adults to prioritize high-paying careers over those that may offer personal fulfillment or societal benefits, such as teaching (Source: OECD, 2019).
Alternative income opportunities: The rise of the gig economy and remote work has provided young adults with numerous alternative income streams that do not require a traditional 9-5 job. According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, around 20-30% of the working-age population in the United States and the European Union were engaged in some form of independent work in 2016 (source: McKinsey Global Institute, 2016). For young people, the gig economy may be an attractive alternative to traditional professions, like teaching, because of the flexibility and control it provides over work hours and income. Additionally, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 71% of American workers who had jobs that could be done remotely were working from home in December 2020, compared to just 20% before the pandemic (Source: Pew Research Center, 2021). This shift toward remote work may draw young people away from traditional careers, like teaching, that typically require in-person attendance.
Dealing with their own generation: Young people may be hesitant to teach their own generation, as they are aware of the unique challenges and behaviors associated with today's youth. While it's difficult to pinpoint specific studies on the reluctance of young people to teach their peers, it is possible to examine the challenges faced by teachers when dealing with contemporary youth, as highlighted in various research studies and sources.
Technology and screen time: According to a report from Common Sense Media, teens spent an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes on screen media per day in 2019 (excluding time spent on screens for school and homework) (source: Common Sense Media, 2019). This high level of screen time can lead to shorter attention spans, difficulties focusing in class, and an increased expectation for instant gratification, which can pose challenges for teachers.
Social media and mental health: The widespread use of social media among young people has been linked to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues (source: Twenge et al., 2018). Teachers may face challenges in addressing and accommodating the emotional well-being of students who are dealing with mental health concerns, as well as navigating the impact of social media on classroom dynamics.
Bullying and cyberbullying: Bullying and cyberbullying have become significant concerns in contemporary schools. The rise of social media and online communication has made it easier for students to engage in bullying behaviors, which can negatively impact the classroom environment and require teachers to address these issues (source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2019).
Increased diversity and inclusion: Today's classrooms are more diverse than ever, both in terms of culture and learning needs. Teachers must be prepared to meet the unique needs of students from various backgrounds and with different learning abilities, which can be both rewarding and challenging (Source: OECD, 2019).
High-stakes testing and accountability: As mentioned earlier, the increased emphasis on standardized testing and teacher evaluations based on student test scores has placed additional pressure on educators, including those teaching their own generation (source: RAND Corporation, 2016).
Young people considering a career in teaching may be aware of these challenges and behaviors associated with their own generation, which could contribute to their hesitancy to pursue teaching as a profession.
Supporting these observations, in the 2019-2020 academic year, U.S. colleges and universities conferred 85,057 bachelor's degrees in education, accounting for only 4% of the more than 2 million total degrees issued that year. Additionally, a survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that undergraduate-level and graduate-level teaching programs experienced a significant drop in enrollment, with 19% and 11% declines, respectively. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 52% of education majors were employed as elementary and middle school teachers in 2018, and the Pew Research Center found that 54% of education majors worked in education-related occupations in 2019.
This declining interest in teaching careers among young adults has significant implications for the education sector, as fewer qualified teachers will be available to meet the growing demand in schools. The shortage of teachers could negatively impact the quality of education and exacerbate existing challenges in the field.
To counter this trend, it is essential to address the factors discouraging young adults from pursuing teaching careers. This may involve improving teacher compensation, offering better resources and support for educators, and shifting societal attitudes toward the value of teaching. By creating a more appealing environment for potential teachers, the education sector can attract the passionate and dedicated individuals needed to shape the minds of future generations.
Although this is considered a significant concern in our society, it should not have to compromise the quality of education our young people receive. The growing teacher shortage in the country, caused by various factors including those previously mentioned, can still be addressed. By partnering with GlobalEd Solutions, schools can overcome these challenges and ensure that students receive the high-quality education they deserve. GlobalEd Solutions' commitment to sustainable employment, cultural diversity, and hiring efficiency bridges the gap between supply and demand for skilled teachers, connecting schools with highly qualified educators from around the world. In this way, the declining interest in teaching careers among young adults can be counteracted, ultimately building a strong, competent workforce that caters to the needs of students and communities.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice or a source of factual data.
 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2021). Digest of Education Statistics, 2020. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d20/tables/dt20_322.10.asp
 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
 Pew Research Center (2019). The Changing Face of America's College Students. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/02/the-changing-face-of-americas-college-students/
 Common Sense Media. (2019). The Common Sense census: Media use by tweens and teens, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens-2019
 Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.
 National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2018. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019047.pdf
 OECD. (2019). TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners. Retrieved from https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/talis-2018-results-volume-i_1d0bc92a-en