Technology Blazes a Path for Hiring in a National Teacher Shortage


A national teacher shortage continues, confirmed by our 2020 PowerSchool TalentIndex Research Report. We just released this year’s survey, and it reveals that over half of respondents currently need more teachers, while nearly two-thirds say they’ll need to boost hiring in response to a substitute teacher shortage this year.

Hiring quality teachers remains a high priority. During the ongoing pandemic, that means leaning on technology to recruit, screen, interview, and onboard teachers online to avoid potential disruptions caused by school closures and shifts back to remote operations.

The national teacher shortage: What’s the data say?

US Labor Department figures from 2018 show the national teacher shortage accelerating, with teachers leaving at a rate of 10,000 every month, the highest since 2001. That same year, our TalentIndex reported 51% of respondents from schools and districts experienced a teacher shortage. Anecdotally, the teacher shortage doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Our 2020 report backs this up, with 54% now reporting a shortage. And when it comes to substitutes, 62% say they’ll need to hire more substitutes during the current school year to maintain coverage.

The teacher shortage isn’t letting up. By all indications, more districts feel the effects each year. K-12 HR teams need to find, hire, and retain more educators to keep pace because students rely on quality teachers to help them reach their learning goals—especially during the disruptive times we’re experiencing.

Recruiting teachers and substitutes during a pandemic

Schools and districts need the flexibility to recruit, hire, onboard, and manage personnel remotely. With schools, businesses, and governments indicating plans for dealing with the pandemic through at least the summer of 2021, in-person processes can’t be guaranteed. Fortunately, technology can provide the tools K-12 HR teams need to find and hire quality educators, onboard them, and retain the teachers they already have.

Our 2020 PowerSchool TalentIndex Research Report shows a significant increase in digital recruiting and hiring methods. 90% of respondents say they’re now conducting video interviews with applicants, and virtual job fairs rank as a top recruiting tactic. While these methods weren’t researched in our previous 2018 TalentIndex, their wide adoption now, by necessity, shows the seismic shift that’s occurring in how K-12 HR teams find and hire candidates.

Keeping up with the times also means using technology to simplify and speed up processes from the application to the first day of work. Automation helps you do more, faster. And that’s why many are looking to technology for help. According to our data, automating processes and enabling virtual access to systems are the top two reasons respondents have implemented a talent management solution. Another clear benefit of online recruiting and hiring is eliminating paper, which saves costs on supplies and postage.

Case Study: See how Boerne ISD in Texas saved thousands with online hiring and onboarding

Focusing teacher recruitment on quality in a competitive environment

With teachers and substitutes in high demand, competition remains high in the labor market. Speedy, simplified digital processes enable you to find, screen, and advance candidates toward a hiring decision before other potential employers get the chance.

Of course, getting talented and qualified educators to apply in the first place is critical. Here are a few tips for appealing to quality teachers:

  • Offer an easy online application and interview process
  • Automate applicant tracking and communications to keep them in the loop about their application status
  • Use technology to simplify recruiting and hiring during the pandemic, showing candidates you’re a forward-thinking school or district willing to invest in the tools needed to help everyone succeed

When candidates experience an easy application process, followed by timely communication and a paperless experience, they’ll know they’ve applied to join a future-ready team.

Tackling the national teacher shortage with technology to keep students learning

The teacher shortage continues to worsen, and the challenges of virtual teaching, remote operations, and changing health and safety protocols will likely push many veteran teachers to retire. Schools need quality teachers—they also need substitutes qualified to teach when teachers are out. Moreover, it’s uncertain how long in-person operations will continue this school year.

Schools could close this winter or spring due to the ongoing pandemic. Ramping up recruiting and hiring with online tools supports student learning continuity throughout this school year and beyond, no matter what happens in the second half of this school year. Taking processes online means recruiting and hiring continues whether school buildings are open or closed.

See more stats, data, and insights from our latest K-12 HR research.

Get your copy of our 2020 PowerSchool TalentIndex Research Report now.