Analyzing the teacher shortage from a strategic planning perspective

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In his master’s research, which he presented at the ACFAS conference, Jerry Legrand analyzed the teacher shortage from a strategic planning point of view.

How do Quebec’s school service centres (SSCs) plan for their future teacher needs? Could their strategic planning have contributed to the shortage of qualified teachers in the schools over the past two decades? 

According to the findings presented by Jerry Legrand at the ACFAS conference held on May 13-17 at the University of Ottawa, their planning hasn’t always been optimal. 

In his master’s thesis in the Faculty of Education at Université de Montréal, Legrand analyzed the teacher shortage from a strategic planning perspective by conducting exploratory research on three SSCs. He is now a doctoral candidate under the supervision of Professor Marie-Odile Magnan. 

Combination of factors

The shortage of qualified teachers in Quebec is due to several factors. Some are external to the teaching profession, such as the birth rate and the number of immigrants with school-age children, while others are internal, such as lack of recruitment, weak retention and the aging workforce. 

The consequences Legrand identified include the lowering of the entry requirements for the profession and the shortening of teacher training programs.  

Legrand looked at European and American studies that document and analyze how school boards anticipate staffing needs and decided to conduct similar research in Quebec, where no such study has ever been done. 

24 practices

Although he encountered difficulties in accessing documents while collecting data in the field, Legrand did manage to obtain 13 strategic plans produced by three French-language SSCs between 1998 and 2022. 

Based on analysis of the documents and a semi-structured interview with an SSC official, Legrand identified 24 planning practices aimed at attraction, retention and professional development.  

He grouped the practices into three broad categories:  

  • Nine related to attracting teachers (anticipating needs, building a recruitment pool, recruiting new teachers, diversifying recruitment sources and attracting male teachers); 
  • Eleven related to retaining teachers (strengthening teacher support measures, improving occupational integration processes and promoting teacher advancement);  
  • Four related to professional development (improving continuing education, encouraging the application of teachers’ expertise in the classroom, developing communities of practice)

However, many of these practices were found in only one or two school service centres. For example, measures to improve work-life balance, job satisfaction and teacher stability existed at only one SSC. 

On the other hand, one SSC implemented a dozen innovative practices, including regular internal assessment of staffing needs, easier assignments for new teachers, cooperation with universities to develop complementary and continuing training models, and job fairs at CEGEPs to attract young candidates to the teaching profession.

School service centres need to be more proactive

In analyzing the collected data, Legrand found that the ministry’s priorities have a strong influence on the strategic planning process at the SSCs. 

“The people who draw up these plans have to take ministerial priorities into account, which explains, at least in part, why some practices are relatively little used at the school service centres,” Legrand said.  

Nonetheless, he believes that with the available data, the SSCs “could be more proactive, particularly in providing support to retain the teachers they already have.” 

Read Jerry Legrand’s thesis.  

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