The COVID-19 pandemic has made indelible changes in all facets of life. But how has it changed international school recruitment? Here are the three most significant ways.
Technology has changed how hiring is done.
Before the pandemic, most top-tier and mid-range schools used some form of in-person interviewing, whether through fairs or their own arrangements. Closed or uncertain borders during the pandemic meant that schools were forced to use videoconferencing for interviewing, and schools now realize that the cost and time of travelling to large recruitment fairs make this option less cost-effective. Hence, interest in fairs is on the decline. Schools are now much happier to interview online, all year round.
One notable side effect of this change is schools asking for supplementary information to allow them to make more informed decisions without personal interaction. Examples include teachers: being asked to provide videos of themselves teaching; conducting mini lessons for the interviewers; taking online assessments; and participating in multi-stage interviews. Schools using video-driven hiring can include more stakeholders and steps in the process, making the process longer but resulting in more nuanced decisions and professional development opportunities for middle leaders who might not have participated in in-person events.
China has gone off the boil… but it’s not cold yet.
Until 2020, China was the place to go for the magic combination of high salaries, solid packages, and low cost of living. The number of new schools opening in China was staggering, with many high-profile schools being lured in by affluent brand-conscious Chinese families willing to pay upwards of $25,000 per year for tuition. The almost insatiable desire for experienced academic teachers in China affected the international teacher recruitment market like a black hole, distorting recruitment packages and patterns in countries like the UAE.
Since 2020, the COVID-closed borders and subsequent changes in educational policy in China have meant that China’s bright attraction has waned, allowing new rising stars such as Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Vietnam to take the forefront in school developers’ and ambitious teachers’ minds.
Nonetheless, China should never be underestimated; many high-paying jobs still exist in high-profile schools. There are always more jobs in China than good teachers to fill them, and the money is still great. The desire for top-quality education, albeit under the stricter eye of the Chinese government, still means academic teachers from desirable Western systems are needed. But the frenzied gold rush days are over, as is China’s effect on the broader market dynamics.
The cost-of-living crisis, combined with higher-than-inflation housing costs in most Western countries, has meant that job seekers are much more focused on the bottom line than they were in pre-2020 times. Gone are the milk-and-honey days when we could make job choices based on things like cultural experience and travel FOMO. Now, it’s all about how much cash you can send home to cover student loans and save for a future house purchase.
Supply and demand forces are also at play. The UK, USA, and Australia are experiencing their worst teacher shortages ever, as fewer university students choose teaching as a career. Considering the increased politicization of education, below-inflation salaries, and growth in other family-friendly jobs that can be done all or partly at home, the fact that graduates are being lured away from teaching is quite understandable. Yet this means that the number of international schools is at its highest point to date at a time when fewer teachers than ever exist to staff them. That’s good news if you are an experienced teacher wishing to relocate, but not so great for the schools looking to hire quality international educators.
Will these trends continue going forward? We think so. This means if you are a qualified/certified teacher and have experience teaching one of the top 5 international curricula – the UK, US, Canadian, Australian, or International Baccalaureate – the world will continue to be your oyster.
About the author:
Diane Jacoutot is the founder and Managing Director of Edvectus, an international school recruitment company with worldwide offices that provides free international job-matching services to teachers. Diane has over 20 years of experience finding qualified, certified K-12 teachers international jobs. Diane is based in the UK. Find out more at www.edvectus.com