Finns consider teachers to be one of the most important occupational groups for the country's future. Almost everyone appreciates the work done by teachers very much. The information is based on a study by Taloustutkimus market research company commissioned by OAJ. OAJ's Chairman Olli Luukkainen is happy with the results but reminds that appreciation must also be shown by deeds.
In the opinion of the people, in addition to doctors, teaching and research staff are the most important occupational group for Finland's future. More than 90 per cent of Finns value teachers much or very much.
According to the study, what makes the profession of a teacher important is the teaching of new knowledge and skills as well as influencing the future of the learners and the country as a whole.
The data is based on a study by the market research company Taloustutkimus commissioned by the Trade Union of Education in Finland. More than 1,000 Finns answered the survey in January 2021.
"It is great to see how widely the teacher's work is valued in Finland. On the other hand, the result reveals that we Finns should learn to show appreciation because less than half of the teachers feel that their work is valued," says Olli Luukkainen, Chairman of the OAJ.
Less than half of teachers feel that their work is valued
The contradiction between appreciation and its transmission becomes apparent in OAJ's Fiilismittari survey. At the turn of January–February, OAJ members were asked if they felt that their work was valued and 2,125 answers were received.
Only 44 per cent of the respondents said they felt their work was appreciated. According to the responses, the feeling of appreciation was undermined by negative feedback and lack of resources.
“Building a good future for learners of all ages is at the heart of teachers work, but now too much time is spent on things other than teaching. In order for every child, young person and adult to receive the support they need from their teacher, the teacher must be able to focus on the most important thing, promoting learning. Teachers must have time to meet the learners as individuals,” Olli Luukkainen says.
Tokens of appreciation are needed from the decision-makers
Some of the teachers who responded to the Fiilismittari survey feel that the salary does not correspond to the level of requirements and the amount of work.
“In order for the profession, considered important in Finland, to remain attractive, the appreciation should be reflected more in the feedback given to teachers than in the decisions of politicians that affect working conditions and, indirectly, the salary. Of course, employers’ pay settlement are also key," Luukkainen says.
Based on the Taloustutkimus survey, it seems that people also need decision-makers to show appreciation for the work of teachers. Eighty-five per cent of Finns believe that funding for education, training and research in Finland should be at least at the same level as in the other Nordic countries.
“Members of Parliament should make this clear in the forthcoming report on education policy. Municipal candidates, on the other hand, should note that three out of four Finns consider it important, according to the study by Taloustutkimus, that the candidate they vote in municipal elections wants to improve the quality of municipal education and educational services,” Luukkainen states.
The work is considered demanding – social media and afternoon papers undermine the image
Taloustutkimus also asked Finns for their views on various claims related to teachers' work. More than nine in ten consider a teacher's work to be responsible, demanding and valuable to the society. Half of Finns think that teachers are paid too low.
Finns’ perceptions of teachers’ work are positively influenced especially by their own experiences and memories. The image of teaching is, in turn, undermined by social media and afternoon papers.
This is how the survey was conducted
- Taloustutkimus conducted the survey in the form of personal telephone interviews in January 2021. There were 1,005 respondents.
- The study sample was formed by random sampling. The results represent the views of mainland Finns aged 15–79.
- The margin of error of the study at the 95% confidence level is at most about +3 percentage points.
- Fiilismittari is a digital service used by the OAJ to gather and engage the opinions of teachers and supervisors in the sector. The service has been in use since the academic year 2019–2020, and it collects thousands of responses and signals from the views of OAJ members every week.