The recruitment process for teachers in schools in the UK varies from school to school. Some advertise, interview and select the teachers on their own while others contract an agency to do it on their behalf. The requirements also vary from school to school. There is a feeling, however, from teachers applying for teaching jobs that the application process is too arduous and time-consuming, with most of them looking for other options outside the teaching profession because of that.

The difficult recruitment process and the complex application forms required deter some teachers from applying for the jobs. A survey done for over a year, whose results were recently published, shows that most graduates get drained in the midst of applying for teaching jobs, as a single application may take over two hours. About half of those who start out applying for a job drop out due to the time it takes them to apply, in addition to the laborious process they go through applying for just one job.

Teachers interviewed during the survey said that the lengthy application process for the jobs was among the top reasons for them dropping out of the application process, second only to the location of the school. Most did not complete the application due to the time and energy required to complete just one application, while others said even if they completed an application they wouldn’t respond to any other vacancy as it was too time-consuming and draining. This application apathy, together with the significant number of teachers leaving the profession, should be a major concern to the government and other shareholders in the education sector. This is a worrying trend, considering the shortage of teachers in schools across the country, as about 37% of schools across the country are facing a teacher shortage.

Schools are not making it easier for themselves to hire more teaching staff, as they make the recruitment process unnecessarily arduous, discouraging many teachers from applying. Some make it difficult for the existing teachers to apply for new roles to further their career, hence discouraging them, leading to some of them delivering less than average lessons in classes or leaving the teaching profession altogether at a time when they are needed the most. According to one former teacher who left the profession some years back, the high turnover of teachers in the country is at a critical level. The understaffing of schools will soon lead to students receiving below par education, less than they deserve.

Some schools are still using outdated methods to recruit their teachers, depending on a single source for the entire recruitment, instead of turning to a wide variety of ways to advertise and recruit teachers, such as using the internet. This will reduce their recruitment costs as compared to if they used, say, a recruitment agency, and at the same time make it clearer for them to identify the teachers best suited for their classes easily. This will also ensure they don’t rely on one set of requirements to get teachers which may be outdated; they can tailor the requirements to suit them well.

If the government standardizes the application process so that it is similar for all schools, it will make it easier for more teachers to apply instead of being discouraged and dropping out halfway into the application process. The process could be shortened, and the complex application forms, including the online tests, reduced in length and complexity to encourage more teachers to apply. Some may argue that this will reduce the quality of the tests and the entire recruitment process, but I don’t think so. The tests and forms can be shorter but still retain their quality, as length and complexity do not necessarily mean that they are of high quality.

If the recruitment process is standardized, then it is much easier to measure teachers’ abilities using the same yardstick. It makes it much simpler for the teachers to apply for a job in any school without having to adjust their resumes much to fit the different requirements in different schools. According to a survey, nine out of ten teachers interviewed said that a simplified universal application process that is streamlined would be very much welcome, as they would be able to apply for numerous jobs more easily, as compared to spending hours applying for a single job.

There is a huge turnover of teachers in the country, with about 30,000 new teachers needed annually. If the recruitment process deters new teachers from applying and results in some of the existing teachers from leaving the profession altogether, then something needs to be done. The standardization of the application and recruitment process across the country to make it easier for teachers to apply for jobs will reduce the shortage of teachers in our schools.