More than one out of three unionised teachers in Finland thought about changing careers during the Covid-19 crisis, according to a new report from the Education Trade Union (OAJ).
Nearly 1,900 teachers, 140 of whom were supervisors, took part in the union's survey on how the epidemic had affected their jobs.
The largest number of respondents who said they mulled switching careers were teachers at early childhood education as well as primary and upper secondary schools — with nearly 40 percent saying they were considering leaving the profession.
"This is an alarming and unprecedented proportion. Their answers reflect the heavy workload that teachers and supervisors experienced," the union's chair Olli Luukkainen said in a statement.
More than half of the respondents were primary school teachers with the remainder working as early childhood and secondary education teachers. The survey also received answers from dozens of university instructors.
Stress and exhaustion
Even though many teachers said they had considered leaving their jobs, 75 percent of the respondents said they felt that the crisis period had been well managed within their field.
However, around 20 percent of the respondents said the opposite, with one third of vocational educators saying the sector's handling of the crisis was poor.
Some 44 percent of the respondents said they had experienced stress and exhaustion during the crisis. Among these, the group most likely to be fatigued were upper secondary school teachers, with 81 percent saying so.
Around 40 percent of all respondents said they did not see distance learning as having positive effects on students and pupils.
"Based on their answers, switching to distance learning should only be the last resort when organising educational activities," Luukkainen said.
The survey also asked the educators what measures would help them do their jobs once schools reopen after the summer break.
Half of the respondents said hiring more teachers would be the most effective in that regard and the next most common response was to allow the educators to concentrate on their immediate teaching responsibilities and not on broader development projects, for example.
Other wishes included additional training and support that would improve the well-being of teaching staff, according to the union's report.
The survey was carried out in May and June of this year.