9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Late career and retirement Building II, C5.07

Career transitions and trajectories of older school teachers in Germany and Britain: The influence of multi-level factors on employment and retirement decisions in later life

The population in most industrialised nations is ageing considerably. This trend has been observed among school teachers to an even greater extent as countries such as Germany and Britain exercised hiring freezes or hired below demand during the 1980s and 1990s. Large parts of the teaching profession are therefore expected to retire in bulk within the next ten to 15 years, partly prior to national pension age. This is why school systems will be left without accumulated knowledge, and will face a substantial skill shortage due to a lack of sufficient amounts of university graduates. National governments will hence have to find ways to retain current teaching staff.
In order to do so, school districts will have to know which influence they might exert upon the career development and career decision making of older teachers. This is of relevance as research observes a destabilisation of employment careers and changes in the employment career patterns of individuals. While former traditional careers were characterised by long, continuous, linear, up-ward oriented employment that took place in just a few organisations, newer career models describe interrupted, heterogeneous employment careers in many organisations with upward, downward and horizontal movements as well as occupational changes.
Against this background it will be of interest to explore trajectories, transitions and turning points in the employment careers of those older teachers that will reach national pension age within the next five to 15 years. The proposed paper therefore aims to answer two questions: (1) how do careers of teachers evolve in later life in different national contexts, and (2) how do factors within the institutional, organisational and private environments of these teachers influence, support oder hinder active career choices and passive career outcomes in two distinct welfare states, Germany and Britain.
These questions will be explored by a currently ongoing study that includes biographical life course interviews with secondary school teachers in two comparable school districts in Germany and Britain. Expected outcomes are an assessment of teaching careers in later life and a discussion on whether, how and why these careers differ in different national contexts.