There’s a desperate shortage of teachers in the Netherlands (and it shows in the vacancies)

A shortage of teachers in the Netherlands? What’s going on with Dutch schools?

They say teachers have the second biggest impact on young people after parents. I can recall my favourite teachers as clearly as I remember my disdain for the teachers I didn’t like. Unfortunately, Dutch primary schools have revealed there are 1400 open vacancies before school year starts.

Shortage of teachers in the Netherlands: Disastrous for education

A quarter of school boards in the Netherlands have said they will be forced to put unqualified people to teach a class in the coming year. An undesirable move but perhaps inevitable out of sheer desperation.

There are currently 3500 open vacancies for teachers in primary education and it is expected that half of these spots will not be filled by the start of the next school year. That is a 5 percent increase in teacher shortage compared to last year.

Teaching assistants, educational support staff and principals are also in need. Around 1 in 20 schools risk starting the new year with no headmaster or headmistress.

Reasons behind the teacher shortage in the Netherlands

The PO-Raad, the organization for primary education, noted that the number of schools facing a teacher shortage is declining but the number of open vacancies are increasing. This shows it is an issue of supply and demand.

Schools which have a higher proportion of non-Western migration pupils have a higher shortage of teachers, as specialised skills are necessary to cater to different student needs but said skills are not reflected through the pay.

Many capable teachers are leaving their expertise in special education and moving towards mainstream education because the salary is better there.

shortage of teachers in the Netherlands
Photo: Flickr/ U.S. Department of Agriculture

What we can learn from Finland?  (is there anything we can’t learn from Finland?!)

When I first visited Finland, I stayed with a family from Helsinki. In our sauna one night (what a cliché) I mentioned I might want to become a teacher. They explained to me how teachers in Finland are valued to the same level as doctors or engineers.

The rationale behind the successful Finnish education system is that passion for the job should be kept alive by cultivating trust in the profession and granting flexibility and autonomy; and hard work acknowledged through adequate pay. Each pupil is assessed on their own merits and teachers are not saddled with paperwork showing what they have chosen to teach and why.

This forward-thinking philosophy is acknowledged in the Netherlands but is yet to be implemented. Den Besten, chairman to the PO-raad, commented to NOS:

“The profession must become more attractive…the government has taken a small step by raising salaries. But now the next step is really needed.” 


What the future holds

The shortage is anticipated to increase to over 10 thousand full-time jobs by 2027. Schools in the Randstad area are feeling the brunt of the effects, but other provinces are also mentioning the difficulty of filling teaching jobs.

No word on a teacher shortage in the Netherlands when it comes to international schools, so feel welcome to fill us in at the comment section if you know more about that situation.

So what do you think of the shortage of teachers in the Netherlands? Any thoughts? Join us in the comments or go to the DutchReview group

Freya Sawbridge
Freya Sawbridge
Freya was born in Edinburgh but raised in New Zealand (cue every person she meets saying “oh I have always wanted to go there but it’s so far away!”). A restless and curious nature has led her to move countries 5 times in the last 3 years in attempt to find a place she can call home. She contacted DutchReview on a whim and arrived in the Netherlands in summer 2019 to start her internship.


  1. Good day. I am a 24 year old South African male. I’ve been here in the Netherlands for 2 months. I would like to find out how I can move here permanently. Being on a holiday visa has limited my ability to find work. How do I go about taking the next step to getting a work permit?

  2. I recently moved to the Netherlands. I obtained my teaching degree in South Africa and I am struggling to get a teaching job. How can I reach out and send my CV to schools with available teaching positions?

  3. You could try contacting a relocation expert. I recently gained residency through oranges homes, working with Erica. Good luck!

  4. Good day. I am qualified Foundation Phase teacher from South Africa. I have been teaching for 13 years. I am researching work and teaching opportunities in the Netherlands. I have a Dutch passport.
    Would I need to get TEFL qualified before taking any further steps? How would I go about applying for jobs?

    Any guidance or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
    [email protected]


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