Only 17 percent of head teachers in German-speaking Switzerland were able to fill all their teaching positions with qualified staff, according to a survey reported in the Sunday papers.
The situation was even worse in the French and Italian regions where only nine percent of school heads could find enough teachers.
The survey found that the problem was most acute in primary schools, with 47 percent of head teachers in the German-language area having difficulty finding specialist teachers for classes 3 to 6 in the coming year.
The subjects most affected by shortages were early French and needlework.
Remedial teachers were also in short supply.
Because of the shortages, schools are being forced to juggle with staff members.
Primary teachers were sometimes required to help out in secondary schools, and teachers of French were teaching German although they were not qualified for this, the SonntagsZeitung said.
It said schools were aware that employing people without the necessary training could seriously impact on teaching standards.
“School heads often have to compromise a great deal when filling vacant posts,” said Bernard Gertsch, chairman of the Swiss head teachers association, in comments quoted by the paper.
Beat Zemp of the Swiss teachers association told the paper the tendency was set to increase, with heads taking on whoever they could find.
The reasons for the shortages were salary differences and the fact some communes were much better off financially than others, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.
Some schools were having to make cutbacks that involved amalgamating classes and scrapping integration support measures.
These cutbacks were leading to performance differences between the schools and threatening equal opportunities for children, the teachers associations said.
In addition, the teaching profession had become less desirable, according to Georges Pasquier, head of the SER teachers union in French-speaking Switzerland.
To replace teachers of the baby-boom generation, the profession had to be made more attractive, Pasquier said.