# Is the teacher also an employee!?

Employer branding, recruitment, employer brand, career paths, retention, benefits, salary benchmark etc. These are almost hackneyed words, repeated ad infinitum, and the meaning behind these terms is the content we use every day to work towards having the right workforce. I do not know for how many years statistics have put staff retention at the top of the list as a primary HR task. But have we ever wondered, for the people who hold the key to the education, skills and, more dramatically, the quality of the future generation of workers, how these concepts are reflected, or do they appear at all? Written by István Gál.

A basic fact of staff management is that it is much cheaper to retain than to recruit. And this theorem is all the more true the more specialised knowledge a field requires. I think that the teaching profession is quite specialised and I don't think it needs to be explained why. Unfortunately, the reputation of the profession is now tarnished, but we have to admit that we entrust our children to teachers from the first grade of primary school to the diploma. In other words, from the moment a child draws the letter 'kitty', through the solving formula of a second-degree equation, to the diploma thesis, it is thanks to the work of teachers that they progress and turn a toddler into a graduate worker. The subject is highly sensitive and at the same time up-to-date data are scarce, if not unavailable. To write this article, we contacted the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers, so we have drawn our data mainly from information published by them and by the KSH.

### Numbers, emigration

According to the KSH database, the number of teachers is in constant decline. Over the last twenty years, the number of teachers has fallen by 14,700, a decrease of around 8%.

*Format: KSH*

If we look at the statistics by function, the absolute losers are primary schools, where the number of teachers has fallen by more than 16,000, or 18.4%

*Format: KSH*

Related to the number of teachers is their age distribution. For this question we can rely on data for 2021 from the PDSZ.

The teacher's wage cap is heavily skewed. When looking at the age profile over larger time intervals, the data shows that 73% of teachers are over 40 and 42% are over 50. This data is from 2021, but if we simply shift these by 3 years the proportion of teachers over 50 reaches 51% and 18% over 60. This is relevant given that the KSH data shows that over 80% of education workers are female, which is a ticking time bomb given current retirement arrangements.

The good news is that according to an article in eduline, the number of applicants (!) for teacher training has increased somewhat this year, which does not mean those who have been admitted and started training (e.g. 1 person applied for a physics/chemistry teacher).

If we make a very rough calculation and assume that all 18,000 applicants will become teachers: 14,000 teachers dropped out of education, 18,000 applied for training, but about 28,000 teachers may be 60 years old or over, the number of over 50 years old may be around 50,000, a teacher training course lasts 5 years.

### Salaries

According to the first news of the current pay settlement, the least a teacher can earn is 538 00 HUF gross with a college degree, 555 000 HUF with a university degree. There was confusion in the communication of the pay rise itself, as 32.2% was first communicated as a pay rise and then as a pay rise, which is far from the same thing.

The average salary of a teacher is calculated at 393 026 HUF, based on the monthly contribution statements of the PDSZ for May 2021. According to the data published by the KSH for 2021, the average gross earnings of those with a bachelor's or master's degree are 556,828 HUF, while those with a university or master's degree are 798,218 HUF, which means that the salaries differ from the average for those with a bachelor's degree by 20-37 to 44-56 percent for those with a university or master's degree.

*Formatted from PDSZ, KSH, HR Portal*

The current pay settlement is causing wage tension among teachers, according to initial reports, but has brought teacher pay somewhat closer to the national averages published by the KSH for 2022. The average for 2022 is HUF 664,508 for college or bachelor's degrees, while for university or master's degrees it is HUF 936,528, which means that the gap is still around 41% for college or bachelor's degrees and 19% for university or master's degrees. In an international context, Eurydice's analysis of the data for 2020/2021 shows that Hungarian teachers' salaries are almost at the bottom of the ranking of the countries listed.

In terms of pay, special mention should be made of those involved in the education of children with special educational needs. According to data from the PDSZ, the pay of those working in these segments is the lowest, but according to the KSH, the number of pupils has increased by 70% compared to 2001 and by 23% compared to 2012. The continued increase in the number of SNI children would justify a greater focus on the pay of this group of teachers, as it is certain that this area will require higher staffing levels year on year.

*Format: KSH*

Not strictly a wage issue, but related to it, is the tangled nature of teachers' working hours. The tangled nature is illustrated by the plethora of articles that have appeared about teachers encountering different pay methodologies and administrations for overtime pay from one school district to another, which has resulted in a major legal dispute that ended in 2022.

If we treat the reduction in the number of teachers as a fact, the underpayment as a fact, and add the time and energy that needs to be spent on training and development related to becoming a teacher, we can ask the question: what makes this profession attractive?

If teachers are employees, why do retention, brand, turnover not arise as a problem to be addressed? Why is the issue of working hours and irregular working hours not transparent and questionable?

### Why is this a problem?

Just thinking about it from an HR perspective: there is no forum where the difficulty of finding skilled workers is not voiced. Who is giving us the skilled labour? No, not the Romans, but the education system and the teachers who work in it. So why do we not want to retain them and why do we not apply to them the same tools that we apply to workers in another segment?

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