Five Ways Covid has Changed the International Teaching Market
Diane Jacoutot, Managing Director, Edvectus Ltd
By Diane Jacoutot, Managing Director, Edvectus
The coronavirus pandemic has been what economists and scientists call a ‘disruptive event’ - quite the understatement!
Some of the changes to the international school hiring market are short term, but some are going to stay around for quite a while.
From the beginning, vaccinations were seen as a way to ‘get back to normal’, and this certainly applies to international borders.
We are now seeing some countries fast-tracking teaching applications from those who have been fully vaccinated, and some countries that look to be requiring vaccination within a period of time after arrival. Some countries are requiring or favouring certain vaccines, so some teachers may need to be vaccinated twice.
In the largest markets, the Middle East and China, teachers who are vaccine-hesitant or anti-vax are now on the outside looking in. Contracts have been rescinded because of it, and schools are now asking about vaccine status as part of their screening. As time goes on, expect the number of countries which will accept unvaccinated teachers to decrease as they try to protect their citizens and health systems.
Online teaching has been around for a while, but nationwide school closures pushed online teaching, tracking and communication into the mainstream.
Teachers now need to be comfortable with everything from video conferencing to class dojo to video editing. Being tech-hesitant isn’t ok anymore, and many schools are asking about attitudes and experience in EdTech as part of their application and interview process.
This has led to some indirect discrimination against teachers who have only lived and worked in countries with poorer infrastructures. They don’t have access to a reliable internet infrastructure and fast broadband. Older teachers who are perceived as less tech savvy are also finding it more difficult to get hired because hiring managers assume they are tech-hesitant or not tech savvy.
As we recover from the pandemic, the strong emphasis on technical skills will recede somewhat but won’t go entirely. The tech genie is out of the bottle so it’s important to become familiar with ed-tech and note these skills on your CV.
Salary and Staffing Divide
The economic consequences of the pandemic have caused many schools to re-think salaries and packages, after many years of increases driven by the increasing mismatch between the supply of and demand for teachers trained in key western curricula.
Some countries mandated fee and salary cuts, but most left it up to schools themselves to sort out.
With many parents not willing to pay a premium price for online or hybrid teaching, fees and enrolment dropped which cascaded into less generous offerings for teachers. Larger class sizes also meant fewer jobs available, and both upper and middle management jobs were axed with cost cutting. Leadership jobs, and non-core subjects like PE, Music, Art, Foreign languages, Drama, Early Years and even Primary/Elementary have all seen a 50% drop this year in many regions and we expect it to take some time to rebound.
Amidst the layoffs, a few teachers got lucky.
In some tightly locked-down countries, staffing managers faced with another year of border closures found themselves giving financial inducements to current teachers to stay and/or vying for those few teachers who were looking for a change of school within the country, leading to localised bidding wars.
When borders reopen consistently, we expect the bidding wars to fizzle out. And, we expect this to have been a short-term bonus for a small proportion of teachers. More generally, salaries will take time to rebound, so teachers may need to be financially more flexible for several years to come.
Plus, keeping it local, has seen more schools give host national teachers a chance. The opportunities for well-trained local teachers will increase as schools find them more stable and less expensive than the imported variety, and parents realise that local teachers can be just as talented as international ones.
In other words, more jobs for local teachers means fewer jobs for international teachers.
Teachers with Families
Teachers with families faced increasing challenges this year, and we expect this to continue in the near term.
Cutting the cost of family packages was widespread, and border closures in countries like China and Kuwait where dependent visas are still not being issued means teachers with families may have to travel alone or not at all.
In the long term this should revert to pre-Covid levels, though not until the spectre of Covid is a distant memory and economies rebound.
Teaching internationally has always brought risks as well as rewards, but this past year has brought some of the latent risks into high focus. Many teachers found themselves on the wrong side of a border closure or job elimination with no recourse and no salary.
Teachers who were already abroad found they could not return home for the summer last year, for fear of not being able to re-enter, and may face the same for a second time. Not being near family and loved ones during such a stressful time was isolating.
The quality and solidity of the medical infrastructure is another new consideration for teachers looking for their next post. Jobs in regions that are perceived as more medically risky are being avoided in much greater numbers.
Covid has changed our world in many ways.
International teaching is no exception.
Teachers who wish to teach internationally will continue to enjoy the many benefits, but need to be more informed, more flexible and more adaptable than ever before.
Diane Jacoutot is the Managing Director of Edvectus Ltd, a company that specialises in bespoke international teacher recruitment. With 20 years of experience in screening and placing thousands of international teachers, she has developed a set of best practices that are both commercially feasible and internationally minded and is happy to share them for the benefit of the schools and children they teach.
You can find out more here :edvectus.com
INTERESTED IN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION?
The Teacher’s Guide is getting around!
Seen here in Thailand with a happy reader - and his new best friend. When we said ‘a companion to your international adventure’ we didn’t quite mean that kind of companion!
Grab a copy to take on your own adventure or listen to a short sample here (4 mins).