More than 1 million U.S. teachers are now under fire from their districts to find jobs in the nation’s fastest-growing education industry, with many of them struggling to keep up with a shortage of qualified candidates.
At the heart of the job crunch is a rapidly aging workforce that is being hit by years of economic downturns and an increasing demand for tech skills.
The jobless rate among teachers is now the highest in the country, while the number of teachers who are underemployed — a term for teachers who want a job but have been out of work for at least five months — rose to 7.1 million in the first quarter of 2018, up from 6.4 million the year before.
The share of U.s. teachers who said they were underemined is nearly double the national average, according to the most recent figures from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
That’s a sign that many schools and districts are trying to find the right people to fill the vacancies, but that they are also grappling with the fallout from the shortage of teachers and teachers’ advocates say it is more complicated than just finding qualified candidates, which is where a large share of the problem lies.
“We have more qualified teachers out there than there are teachers,” said Robert J. Luebbers, president of the National Education Association.
“But many teachers are out there without the right credentials.”
As many as 80 percent of teachers in districts in the District of Columbia are undereducated, meaning they are not proficient at basic skills, such as writing, math or science, which could make it harder for them to get jobs, said Luebs, who is also a former superintendent of public instruction.
A growing number of districts have said that if they don’t recruit teachers from the outside, they will have to rely on people from the inside.
A recent survey by the National Association of State Boards of Education found that only 12 percent of districts in 10 states had a recruiter in place.
A shortage of talented teachers is also creating problems for schools that are trying not to hire inexperienced teachers, such in math and science classrooms, and in some urban schools.
“It’s very hard to find teachers that are going to be able to teach in an environment that has not been taught in the past,” said Daniel C. Johnson, director of the Institute for College Access and Success at the University of Virginia.
Johnson said that the shortage can be exacerbated by teachers who come from schools with weak accountability systems or that do not have a strong work-life balance.
The Education Department said that about 1.1 percent of all U..
S., District of Colombia, District of Hawaii, District and State of Puerto Rico teachers were undereduplicated, meaning their employers could not verify their qualifications.
The problem extends beyond teachers, experts say.
“You’ve got an education system that’s broken,” said Jennifer A. Cavanaugh, director for educational policy and research at the Center for American Progress, which advocates for education reform.
“It’s really hard to recruit and retain the best teachers.”
The National Governors Association, which represents more than 400 state governors, said in a statement that it had launched an “in-depth review of our recruitment processes.”
The association has launched a pilot program that will test recruitment practices in its two-year-old pilot program.
“In the coming months, we’ll be providing a report to governors on the implementation of this pilot program,” the statement said.
The lack of qualified teachers is not limited to teachers, however.
A growing number are finding themselves unemployed because their employers have not offered enough hours to fill their vacancies, according, to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The Department of Education said last month that there were more than 3.5 million teachers out of jobs across the country in June, up 2 percent from May.
The agency did not provide a breakdown of whether that number included teachers with full-time positions, part-time and temporary positions.
At least 2.3 million of the more than 1.6 million teachers who were out of a job during the same time period were women, and a majority were women.
In the most populous U.n. district, New York, a majority of the teachers in a district with a population of nearly 10 million are women, according the report.
In all, 3.3 percent of educators in the U, District, Puerto Rico and U. s.
Virgin Islands were undumped, meaning that their employers were unable to verify their credentials, according a June report from the Center on Education Policy.
In addition, 1.2 percent of the districts with at least one teacher in a position where they are unable to confirm their qualifications were underserved by a wide variety of students, the report said.
At a recent forum on the job market hosted by the Council of State Governments, education experts and educators