Tallinn is facing a severe teacher shortage, as schools in surrounding municipalities offer higher salaries. Unlike in the capital, wealthier municipalities in the surrounding area pay teachers a supplement to the national minimum wage of €1,412, with classroom bonuses also higher outside Tallinn.
Pay for teachers working in all of the wealthy municipalities around Tallinn is above the national minimum wage, with municipal schools also competing with each other for the best teaching staff. As a result, there has been an upsurge in the number of teachers leaving jobs in the capital to take up positions in municipal schools.
Sirly Illak-Oluvere, head of curriculum at Mustamäe High School, said, that the better salaries offered outside Tallinn meant the school had lost one of its teachers with just a week to go until the start of the new academic year.
"Our salary is €1,412, plus bonuses for overtime and classroom work. It seems that the surrounding municipalities are paying a bit better, which is why Mustamäe High School has had to deal with a situation where our teacher was called and invited to a school, where the salary was quite different from what we can offer now. We lost a teacher," Illak-Oluvere said.
There are also other schools near Tallinn, which have lost many more teachers to schools in neighboring municipalities.
"From September 1, the minimum monthly salary for teachers will be €1,633. In addition to that, there will be class teacher fees, overtime and so on. Class teacher pay starts at €250 a month," said Saue deputy mayor Andres Kaarmann.
"Municipalities in the 'golden circle' (populous municipalities in the capital's commuter belt - ed.) pay higher salaries than Tallinn, and if transport connections are good, this is where teachers will come," Karmann added.
However, Kaarel Rundu, head of Tallinn's education department, believes this is still a two-way process. "People are also coming into Tallinn, not just going out. Over the last three years, the salaries paid in Tallinn have been at an average level when compared to neighboring municipalities. It has decreased a bit in the last year, in 2021, but it is certainly not the case that everywhere else pays more," Rundu said.
Rundu stresses, that although there are more than 50 schools, which pay the minimum wage, the average salary for teachers in Tallinn is €1,588 per month, with average class teacher premium €153. However, schools in surrounding municipalities do not limit themselves to paying the minimum, meaning overall pay rates are still more favorable there than in the capital.
The deputy mayor of Saue said, that according to data provided by the Ministry of Education, last year, the average monthly salary of a teacher in Saue municipality was €1,900.
However, according to Rundu, the shortage of teachers in Tallinn schools has reached the extent, that headteachers would be required to teach lessons themselves in order to plug the gaps.
Editor: Michael Cole