Staggered with uncertainties, isolation and teleworking, the Covid crisis has led a number of workers to question their life plans and increased a movement already well underway, that of professional retraining. The Unédic barometer of March 2022 mentions that 30% of working people are in the process of changing jobs or are planning to do so. For job seekers, the proportion reaches 54%.
Among these executives, engineers, nurses, salespeople or bankers, some join the training benches for teaching professions. A choice that may seem against the current at a time when we are alarmed by a shortage of candidates for competitions . A recent Senate report on “the crisis in the attractiveness of the teaching profession” notes that the “number of people registered for the secondary education competition has fallen by more than 30% in fifteen years, from 50,000 candidates present in 2008 to 30,000 in 2020”.
Do these aspirants to retraining for teaching represent an opportunity for a national education system that is struggling to attract new higher education graduates? What strengths do they have to succeed in this job, based on their previous professional experience, and what can they bring to them?
A desire to transmit
Let us first look at the motivations that drive these people who had a first professional life before becoming teachers. A series of interviews with people who have made a career change reveals four major trends in this desire to branch off.
Some of them, like Ivan, 37 (the first names have been changed) invoke a taste or passion for a subject known at university. Little fulfilled in his former profession, which he only considered “as a spare wheel, a means of filling the fridge”, this former delivery man-packer passed the Spanish CAPES.
For others, it is the desire to work with young people and to help them in their identity building that comes into play. “What I really like is being able to support my students, educate them, instruct them […] to have a social role”, says Virginie, 34, an agricultural engineer who chose to become a teacher. in biotechnology in vocational high school.
Through a retraining, it can also be a question of giving back to the French education system what it has been able to give. At age 56, Yasmine develops a sense of generativity, as described by Erik Erikson . “I received so much from the National Education that, deep down, there was no other choice but to share what I received,” she says. […] It’s my driving force”. For this, she left her job as an executive secretary and became a French-English teacher in a vocational high school.
Finally, the real – or idealized – advantages of the teaching profession come into play. “I worked for 10 years at the atomic energy commission, in management […] up to my two children. I did nine years of parental leave because I have five children. […]. I ended up going to the obvious, I needed a position with school holidays, ”notes Gabrielle, 45, management controller, who has become a librarian teacher.
These reasons correspond to those which are also invoked by new teachers coming directly from higher education, just as the claim of a vocation is shared.
For Pauline, 29, holder of a history-geography CAPES, the desire to teach dates back to childhood: “I used to teach my dolls, generally to learn my lessons”. While waiting to be able to concretize her professional project as a little girl, she held jobs as a tourist castle guide and ASH in a hospital environment.
If, countered by the vicissitudes of life, the project is postponed temporarily, there is always a trigger that comes to remind us of this desire to teach: a dismissal, the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a domestic accident, a professional traffic accident, etc.
A reinvestment of experience
We therefore find a set of entirely legitimate motivations for entering the teaching profession for these former professionals in the private sector. However, each of them has a professional experience, more or less present depending on the duration of this first activity, which naturally induces a posture that may differ from other beginner teachers.
Older when they take their first teaching position, these beginners display, in front of their students, a distancing that other beginners sometimes find it difficult to have. They are not the “big brothers, friends […] extracurricular facilitators” as Gelin, Rayou and Ria evoke for young teachers. Their dress, their language, their posture, everything makes them similar to their experienced colleagues.
However, the passage from the status of expert in their previous job to beginner in that of teacher weakens their professional identity and leads them to tend towards two rather opposite positions.
Either they claim this professional experience in front of their students, their colleagues and the institution. Pierre, 33 years old, commercial, holder of the CAPLP economy-management-sales, clearly indicates that he wants to “build my courses from my professional experience”, these different positions held corresponding to many points of the professional baccalaureate reference system in which he teaches.
Either they conceal it, or even truncate the truth. Thus, Ivan, introducing himself to his head of establishment and his colleagues, evokes “an experience in the private sector”. The whole audience thinks of an experience in a private school. He did not deny them: “the confusion suits me”.
The link between the old profession and the discipline taught therefore strongly contributes to creating these resurgences of the old professional past. This experience could therefore be a significant added value for the French education system and, ultimately, for the students faced with these atypical beginners.
However, to acquire the expected skills as defined by the official bulletin of July 25, 2013 and to prepare for the competition, a two-year training in INSPÉ (National Higher Institute of Teaching and Education) is now necessary. However, training leave is often only one year, which makes it very complicated, if not impossible, to retrain in good conditions, for people with family responsibilities and having to repay loans. A situation to rethink or risk depriving yourself of an interesting pool of vocations?
Author Bio: Sylvie Dozolme is a Trainer and Head of Masters at INSPE at Clermont Auvergne University (UCA)