Tens of thousands of skilled workers are missing for a full-day primary school

GÜTERSLOH In the future, every child in primary school will have the right to full-day care – according to research, however, tens of thousands of educators and social workers in Germany are missing by the end of the decade. The federal states must act now, along with all those responsible, to prevent a growing shortage of staff in primary schools and community centers, said Anette Stein of the Bertelsmann Foundation, which published the study on Tuesday.

In total, over 100,000 teachers may be missing. Therefore, in particular in the west, the implementation of this law will be difficult, while in the east, the relatively worse employment rate at the western level should be improved. According to the research, money is not a problem – there are simply not enough people willing to take up this profession.

In September last year, the federal and state governments decided on the statutory right to all-day care in primary schools, which is being phased in gradually. From the school year 2026/2027, the regulation will apply to children in class I, from 2029/2030 to all classes.

The starting position in the Länder varies considerably: in the East, on average 83% of primary school pupils already benefit from full-day offerings. In addition, 3.5 percent. takes part in the afternoon offer until 14:30. On the other hand, in the west it is only 47 percent during the day and 18 percent at noon. On the other hand, staff in the East are lagging behind: in after-school care, for example, a full-time specialist has to look after more than twice as many children as a colleague in the West.

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The survey only gives good marks for Berlin, Hamburg and Thuringia. According to projections, by the end of the decade, there will be enough staff there to provide every primary school child with a full-time place – and with good childcare rates.

All other East German Länder can also offer each child a full day offer until 2030. However, the Bertelsmann Foundation is in favor of improving the staffing situation in primary schools and after-school clubs. According to the forecast, some 26,000 additional skilled workers are needed if one were to orientate himself in West Germany. According to the study, they can be funded from federal funds under the All-Day Promotion Act.

The West German Länder, on the other hand, would have to concentrate on expanding space. If every child in primary school was offered a full-day offer, over 1 million additional places and around 76,000 specialists would be needed by 2030. Even if the target were only related to the current rate in East Germany – where more than four out of five primary school students are looked after all day – there would still be a shortage of 55,000 skilled workers. And even if some children continue to benefit from the afternoon offer, according to the study, there will still be minus 34,000 skilled workers.

The numbers have shown that “our early childhood education system is on the brink of collapse and we absolutely must act now,” said Doreen Siebernik, board member of the GEW education association. Colleagues in kindergartens and schools are on the verge of having to face the grueling challenges of the last few years. “The workload is often too heavy. This situation is no longer acceptable, ”she said.

Expert Anette Stein of the Bertelsmann Foundation called for “a long-term specialist offensive by the federal and state governments.” To get better and nationwide equipment, politicians now need to create a legal framework, sufficient training opportunities and incentives to enter the profession. GEW and the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) also called for a “skilled worker offensive”.

Nicole Gohlke, spokeswoman for the education policy of the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag, also believes the federal government has a duty to act. He should not always run away from state sovereignty, but he must contribute.

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