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The shortage of teachers in the technical vocational education causes the supply of technically educated people to be left behind compared to the needs of society. Fontys wants to do something about this through combining business and education. The educational institution starts with three pilots. “What we need are new, creative solutions”, says Nienke Meijer, Fontys’s director.

Meijer recently explained her plans in een interview met She is talking about making the teacher’s career paths “circular”. By not necessarily being 100% teacher, the profession should become more popular. Meijer: “A model that makes it possible for you to not be a teacher or working in business your whole career. We want to make sure that someone can alternate between these two worlds throughout his entire career.” A shared job enables you to do that, it combines teaching with a career in business. It also has to be possible for someone to just be working as a teacher and after that to work in business for a certain period of time.

“There is a big shortage of technical teachers in Lower Vocational Education and in Intermediate Vocational Education in the Netherlands (vmbo, mbo)”, says Meijer. “The problem will probably just increase due to the aging population, also because there aren’t enough students taking the course. Time is running out, new and creative solutions are needed. That is why we came up with something new, something disruptive. This new way of thinking is what we’ve captured in this plan.

Fontys kicks off with three relatively limited pilots. For the first pilot one particular company is linked to one educational institution. Two employees from both sides temporarily swap positions. The second pilot will be at the STEM teacher academy: here they are searching for customization to lure business men to education. The third pilot focuses on a strategic staff policy at schools.

Bottlenecks are among other things in the differences in the use of language and in short and long term thinking, is what Meijer has noticed. “Education has its own idiom with many abbreviations. In business, there is more short term thinking than in education. A part-time course of 4 years for someone who switched courses is often a distant horizon for companies.”

Dutch: Lees hier het complete interview met Nienke Meijer