the Education Workforce Initiative

Teachers are at the heart of the learning process.

However, they are often expected to undertake a wide range of tasks that take them away from their teaching. In order to be truly effective in helping children learn, teachers should be supported by other professionals who may be better suited to fulfilling the many non-teaching roles that teachers are asked to perform.

By 2030, the demand for teachers in low- and lower-middle-income countries is projected to rise by 25 percent, and in low-income countries it will nearly double. Across the globe, countries are facing teacher shortages – especially in remote or conflict areas – and in certain subject areas such as science and mathematics. New approaches to increase the supply of qualified teachers are required but that won’t be enough.

Classroom - photo: Adam Patterson/Panos/DFID

To thrive in this century with an ever-changing job market, young people need to leave school with the skills they need to succeed in life. The roles of the teacher, school leaders, and other members of the education workforce should evolve with these needs. More effective approaches to strengthening the education workforce, harnessing technology where appropriate, and professionalizing a wider set of roles are needed to support them.

The Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) –  based on our recommendation in the Learning Generation report to “strengthen and diversify the education workforce” – is a concrete step to address these issues and to increase the capacities of teachers and other members of the education workforce to train future generations.



The Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) aims to develop concrete options for policymakers to design, expand, and strengthen the education workforce to meet the changing demands of the 21st century and to improve learning outcomes.

Drawing on evidence from in-depth case studies on how education workforce reform is implemented and examples of innovation, EWI is learning from the latest experience to bring fresh thinking and new approaches to workforce design and implementation.


Why now?

Teacher shortages impact many countries, especially in remote regions and conflict areas. There are also shortages in certain subjects such as science and mathematics, essential areas for acquiring the skills of the future. The role of the teacher – and that of supporting staff – should evolve in parallel with the 21st century skills necessary in an ever-changing job market.

Education outcomes must be improved too. Costs for teachers and other human resources in the sector often take up 70-80% of national education budgets. Teachers need support to strengthen and ensure the effectiveness of their teaching and learning practices. EWI is exploring how redesigning and strengthening the education workforce could provide greater support for teaching and learning’

EWI complements the existing UNESCO International Task Force on Teachers for 2030. It focuses on a limited set of priorities in depth to address key gaps, involve new actors, and create a strong platform for country implementation.


EWI focuses on four priority areas in primary and secondary education:

  1. Defining the changing role of the teacher and exploring the introduction and professionalization of other roles within the education workforce such as learning support staff, master teachers, health practitioners, pupil welfare practitioners and technology and administrative staff.
  2. Defining, professionalizing and strengthening leadership by both men and women at school and district levels.
  3. Exploration of innovation throughout the teacher life cycle aiming to address specific challenges such as gender imbalances and shortages in rural areas, science, and mathematics.
  4. Reinforcing intrinsic motivation and practice of the education workforce through cost-effective professional development that allows for the changing roles and the potential of technology to enable open and distance learning.

Expected results

An Education Workforce Report to inform education workforce reform. This will include a review of recent evidence; lessons from other sectors; and in-depth examples of how effective education workforce reform or innovative approaches have been implemented.

A series of country-specific proposals for education workforce reform. These will be co-developed with policymakers in 3 EWI countries, in collaboration with local research partners and other actors who will help sustain the reforms in the longer term. The initiative aims to build local and international capacity in this critical area of education reform.


A High-level Steering Group of international experts chaired by Commissioner and former Minister of Education of South Korea Ju-Ho Lee with Vice Chairs Susan Hopgood, President of Education International and Theo Sowa, Commissioner and CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund.

An Advisory Group of key stakeholders including the International Task Force on Teachers for 2030, international agencies, practitioners, non-state actors, and thought leaders to provide specific expertise and help shape outputs.

Research organization(s) to lead the research.

Partnerships between international and local research partners, think tanks, implementing organizations, and governments to develop country policy options.

A Secretariat, led by the Education Commission.