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White Paper: Substitute Teachers Should Pay for Skills Training

By August 6, 2014June 1st, 2015For Administrators, Research, Training Options

There is a common consensus among professionals that training or certification is required for most jobs.  In these training courses or certification processes key skills and abilities are demonstrated or learned. These skills are necessary to excel in the desired profession. Society expects medical doctors and nurses have sufficient schooling and training, lawyers need advanced education and internships to set them apart, and even beauticians are required to hold certifications. Teachers and school administrators are also included in this group; licensing and an education are required to work within any school. In this paper we will discuss not whether substitute teachers are required to be certified or receive additional skills training but how training can be paid for.

Students entering college or university have several options available to them to finance their education; scholarships, financial aid, sponsorship, and other means, but these options are in short supply. The majority end up ‘going it alone’ and paying for the schooling or training themselves.  This self-investment is later returned in higher salaried jobs or opportunities.  Substitute teacher training can follow this same path; self-investment.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that an individual will change jobs on average ten times throughout a career.(1)  Though this number is different from profession to profession and industry to industry it is certain that most people will change jobs many times in their career.  With so many changes throughout a career more and more people are willing to invest in themselves.  Kelly Global Workforce completed a survey in Australia and found that 74% of Generation X are prepared to spend their own money on training to upgrade their skills.  This same survey shared that 72% of Generation Y was prepared to invest their own money and 68% of Baby Boomers were prepared to invest their own money in themselves.(2)  Today, more people today than previous generations are willing to invest their own money to improve their skill set.
Gary S. Becker in Journal of Political Economy found investment in “human capital” pays off in higher wages later in life, regardless of chosen field.  (He uses the phrase “human capital” meaning skills training, education, and certification a person does to improve themselves.)  He goes on to say, those who invested in “human capital” are an “abler” person.   In other words, those individuals who invested in themselves are a more capable person.(3)
Jim Giulliano, reported similar results in HRMorning.com. He started a program that encouraged members of his staff to select and fund their own training. The results were surprising to him. He found that those who took control of their training also were the most motivated and top performers. “The top people used the program to get better or to help themselves advance with the company.”(4)
In the case of a school district and substitute teacher; when potential or current employees invest in themselves there are advantages for not only the school district but for the employee as well.  The school district improves the substitute teacher pool without raising costs; and if training is done with an outside company without putting additional strain on those who manage substitute teachers.
The benefits for the substitute teacher are numerous. Those who are willing to pay for training are the more able, motivated, and top performers. The substitute teacher becomes more invested in his/her education and to the school. He/She is showing a desire and willingness to enter the classroom and not just be a warm body but to excel and help educate students. Substitute teachers who pay for training also know right away if they really want to be a substitute teacher. Skills training reveals much of what a substitute teacher encounters day to day and therefore a potential substitute teacher can make the decision before going through the hiring process. Saving the substitute teacher and the district time and money in processing.
If a school district does require a substitute teacher to pay for training a reward or an incentive could be offered. This, once again, could or could not cost the district additional time or money. Substitute teachers could simply be recognized. They could be offered additional training, such as on-going mentoring, throughout the school year. Or possibly could be placed more often in classrooms or higher on a calling list. Simply, a district could offer higher pay to trained teachers or even a reimbursement on training.
Therefore, when the question is asked; “We would like to have training but we do not have the resources to do so?”  The response can be; “Have the substitute teacher pay.”
1. Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Grab bag, Summer 2006 Vol. 50, Number 2
3. Gary S. Becker in Journal of Political Economy Vol. 70, No. 5, Part 2 Oct. 1962, pp. 9-49“Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis”