Leena Krokfors, vice-dean for academic affairs at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, believes that the current teacher education provides students with basic career skills. But not everything can fit into a degree. Traditionally considered a safe and stable choice, the teaching profession has undergone several changes.
“Career monitoring has shown that teachers stay in the same job for fairly long. But the field is currently in turmoil due to various factors, including the curriculum reform that took effect in 2016,” Krokfors states.
Finnish teacher education is keeping pace with international competitors. Last year, the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki rose to No 35 on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list.
“We’re clearly doing something right. But I’m worried about the downward trend in the number of responses to career monitoring surveys. Are we getting enough information about careers and employment?” Krokfors asks.
Education development based on changes to the teaching profession
Teachers face a great many challenges when they enter the world of work, and their education does not always provide them with the solutions. All of a sudden, you have to help ten children put on their ice skates or prevent a pupil from choking at lunchtime.
Krokfors, whose research specialises in the work of teachers, calls it the initial professional shock.
However, changes within the profession have focused on issues such as the increased need for pedagogical leadership.
“The skills required in today’s information-intensive society change so fast that we don’t have the time to equip our students accordingly. But we have raised the standards of teacher education so that teachers have the ability to proactively address problems they face at work,” Krokfors notes of the current situation.
Teachers’ professional skills and identity are currently based on their basic academic education, induction training in support of their early career, and professional continuing education. The responsibility for the latter has been assigned somewhat erratically to the local authorities. The aim now is to make universities increasingly responsible for continuing education.
“We should be better able to recognise the continuum of professional development. Only lifelong learning can provide the foundation on which teachers can build their expertise and identity.”
Career monitoring helps to recognise sought-after skills
The University of Helsinki’s extensive degree programme reform took learning outcomes and employability into account. Meanwhile, the teacher education forum, which was active until the end of 2016, considered the current state and future of teacher education in Finland.
“Drivers of change relating to the profession have been recognised in both these arenas. We need knowledge and monitoring regarding the world of work to be able to design education that meets career development needs. We don’t have to organise everything ourselves. Other faculties also offer high-quality teaching based on research,” Krokfors points out.
For the past ten years, the career monitoring surveys of Finnish universities have been key to obtaining information about careers and employment. This autumn’s survey targeted Master’s graduates from 2012 and doctoral graduates from 2014.
“Career tracking is one of our most important tools. I hope that graduates respond to the surveys and tell us about their needs and how their work has changed, so that we can allocate our education resources accordingly,” Krokfors says.
Career monitoring of universities
Universities use career monitoring surveys to gather information about how graduates find employment and what kinds of skills employers are looking for.
The survey is conducted by the Aarresaari career services network of Finnish universities.
The current career monitoring survey covers graduates who completed a second-cycle degree or a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or kindergarten teaching in 2012 as well as doctoral graduates of 2014.
The survey results are used in study guidance, the development of education and teaching as well as in research on the career development of university graduates.
The answers will be processed confidentially and the results reported in a way that individual respondents cannot be identified. The career monitoring data is stored anonymised in an electronic format in the Finnish Social Sciences Data Archive.
Read the results of previous career monitoring surveys
- University of Helsinki career monitoring reports
- National career monitoring reports
- The Töissä.fi service, which uses career monitoring data
- The Urapolulla.fi career-planning service, which is based on data from Töissä.fi