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France promises teacher pay rise amid 4,000 vacancies

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised further pay rises for teachers amid a recruitment crisis that has led to around 4,000 vacancies in schools ahead of the start of the school year.

A week before classes opened after the summer holidays, Mr Macron told school leaders that efforts to raise teachers’ salaries which began in 2020 would “continue”.

He added that “no teacher will start their career with less than €2,000 net” per month, which would represent an increase of around 10% compared to today.

Figures from the Department for Education showing that 4,000 teaching posts remain vacant have sparked debate in recent weeks over how to attract more people to the profession.

Education Minister Pap Ndiaye admitted in July that salaries were “objectively not at the level one would expect”.

The government had already promised an unconditional raise for new teachers, but will also offer task-based raises for teachers who agree to take on additional responsibilities.

Teachers with 15 years of experience earn around €40,000 a year before tax in France, according to OECD data, below the average of their peers in other wealthy countries and around half the level of their German counterparts. .

The OECD said a teacher with 15 years experience in Ireland earns around €62,000 on average.

The shortages have led to controversial recruiting efforts, including rapid “job dating” interviews.

A Versailles academy in the southwest of Paris organized 30-minute interviews in June with 2,000 candidates from outside the profession.

State teachers are typically required to have a master’s degree in education and pass a challenging certification exam, but the Department of Education is reducing such requests for temporary “contract teachers.”

Sophie Venetitay, general secretary of the biggest secondary union, the Snes-FSU, said it was a “return to the classroom with shortages”.

“We’ve seen school authorities and the ministry improvise in every possible way to make sure there’s a teacher in front of every class,” she said.

“But even if this objective is achieved, one must ask what will be the cost, if these teachers have not been trained”, she added.

Key sectors of the economy in France and more broadly in Europe are struggling to find staff after the Covid-19 epidemic.

The official unemployment rate in France stands at 7.4%, with 2.3 million people officially unemployed, according to statistics agency INSEE.

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