Blackwell L, Lynch K, Jones S. Science teaching: the demographic squeeze. Labour Market Trends 2001; 109 (10): 485-494

Key points: Despite the introduction of 'golden hellos' to attract more graduates into teaching science, maths and technology, recruitment to teacher training in these subjects continues to be below target. As the numbers of graduates in science, engineering and technology (SET) increased substantially over the 1970s and 1980s, particularly among women, proportionally fewer entered teaching. The profession therefore relies heavily on those born 1947-1956, currently aged 45-54, many of whom will retire over the next decade. Demographic ageing in teaching occupations will most strongly affect the secondary sector. Occupational mobility patterns reveal that while men moved between teaching and other SET employment between 1981 and 1991, women were more likely to move between teaching and full-time housework. Teaching enabled women with degrees in SET to combine professional and family life. Demographic changes, such as later childbearing and more childlessness, women's increased attachment to the labour market (and to non-teaching occupations) before childbearing, and higher rates of SET and non-SET employment among women, will combine to reduce the 'recruitable pool' from which science teachers are normally recruited.