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Words in the News
Wednesday 17 September 2003
OECD report on teacher shortages
teacher The latest reported published by the OECD warns of major teacher shortages in the future as the proportion of teachers aged over 50 rises. These shortages could seriously affect economic output in the world's richest countries. This report from Adrian Brown:
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As the pool of unskilled jobs shrinks in rich countries, the prospects for future employment will depend increasingly on as many people as possible getting a good education. Providing that education – not just access to university but good schooling from an early age – is the key to future prosperity for OECD nations.

But this year's Education-at-a-Glance report highlights the fact that on average the numbers of mature teachers has risen by nearly two percentage points in member countries and by four percentage points in Finland, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Shortages are already evident. In fourteen OECD countries just over a tenth of teaching posts in upper secondary schools were vacant at the start of the last school year. And more importantly, the shortages are predominantly in those subjects on which future economic performance will likely depend: science, technology and computer science, maths and foreign languages.

Elsewhere in the report which covers a wide range of comparative data, girls continue to reduce the gender gap in educational performance. And not only have they closed the gap in many subjects, they have overtaken boys in such key areas as reading – now a cause for concern, says the OECD.

Adrian Brown, BBC
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people who are unskilled do not have any special training or qualifications for a job
the education you receive at school
you see or recognise something immediately – a quick reference source
the most interesting or exciting parts of something
fully developed, ripe
if there is a shortage of something, there is not enough of it
comparative data
information and/or figures used to compare things
gender gap
the gap between the sexes – boys and girls, men and women
if you overtake someone or something, you go faster than them
cause for concern
a reason to be worried
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