Almost 3,000 people left private sector to become teachers in Flanders
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Almost 3,000 people left private sector to become teachers in Flanders

© Belga
© Belga

More and more people in Flanders are leaving their private sector jobs to become teachers, according to Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts.

Last school year, 2,818 Flemish people switched from the private sector to education, the highest number ever.

Since 1 September 2020, people with lateral entry status can take up to eight years of seniority with them when they switch to teaching.

“This is one of the measures to tackle the shortage of teachers,” explained Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts.

“Teaching is a wonderful profession, which you can also choose later in life. We are going to further remove the financial thresholds.”

Nowhere is that teacher shortage seemingly greater in Flanders than in mathematics, where the lack of qualified candidates is reaching an alarming level.

“We will add extra bottleneck subjects to the list so that more lateral entrants can take seniority from their old career into education and so that the number of lateral entrants can continue to rise,” Weyts said.

“In the light of the coronavirus crisis, there may be extra people considering a career change. In education, many wonderful challenges await anyone who wants to help shape young people.”

In a press release about the increase in people leaving the private sector for teaching, Weyts explained that people choose a career in teaching “because they want to teach children and young people with passion: it is not about the big money.”

But the minister acknowledged that potential candidates can be hesitant to leave a current profession if it means starting at the entry level in the field of education and losing all their years of accumulated seniority.

That’s why the lateral entry system was created for people switching from the private sector in order to teach so-called “bottleneck courses,” or subject areas that are facing a shortage of teachers.

These include primary school teachers and teachers of Dutch, Dutch for newcomers, French, mathematics, engineering, woodworking, mechanics, commercial correspondence French and commercial correspondence Dutch.

The new regulation entered into force on 1 September 2020.

In the academic year 2020-2021, a total of 2,818 Lateral Entry candidates switched to education, which is 15 percent more than in the 2019-2020 school year, when there were 2,458 lateral entrants, and 23 percent more than in the 2015-2016 school year.

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