International teachers in big demand for 2022
According to Edvectus MD, Diane Jacoutot, international schools face a very tough year recruiting, with fewer teachers entering the market and many more needed.
The global pandemic has affected most aspects of our lives, and in light of this disruption, we conducted a survey in October 2021 to evaluate the recruitment landscape for 2022 jobs. The survey was designed by Edvectus with the support of International Education Solutions (IES), and a number of experienced international school leaders. The survey was completed by over 200 international heads of school, HR directors and school owners in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions. These regions include two countries with the highest number of British and American orientated international schools – the UAE and China.
More jobs, fewer teachers
The first thing to note is that the our own data shows that 35% fewer teachers registering to teach abroad from countries such as the US, UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2018, while the survey showed that current demand for teachers has increased. 40% of survey respondents anticipated hiring more teachers than the last pre-pandemic hiring season and 40% said it would be about the same. Only 20% of schools felt they would hire fewer.
The problem was particularly acute in the Middle East (ME) and East Asia (FE) regions, which is particularly worrying because of even more restrictive visa standards in terms of nationality, dependent status and educational attainment. The demand for teachers is higher and the supply is far lower than ever before.
How much effort to find the right teachers?
More international teachers are needed, but how much effort will schools have to dedicate to sourcing them? The vast majority of schools surveyed expect finding these international teachers will be difficult this year. 82% of respondents felt it would be “somewhat harder” or “much harder” than the 2018/19 recruitment season. Only 5% felt it would be easier.
The perceived magnitude of the challenge varies by region. Unsurprisingly, schools in China and East Asia expect the most difficulties, whereas the Middle East schools, where borders have been more consistently open for longer, are more optimistic that they can get the teachers they need. That is not to say it will be easy for even Middle East schools. “Both the number of quality of applications have been less”, wrote one Middle East school. “We need to consider their location and work harder to obtain their working visa. Traveling these days is getting tougher due to lockdown in different countries and candidates must show proof of Covid vaccinations.” wrote a Southeast Asian school, and this was a sentiment echoed by other schools in the Asia Pacific
STEM teachers, secondary specialist teachers and Early Years teachers were considered the hardest to find.
Recruiting earlier was the most popular tactic being employed, with almost three quarters of schools in East Asia getting into the market early. However, recruiting earlier is only possible if a school knows their vacancies earlier, and if teachers of sufficient quality and quantity are available at an earlier time. More than 30% of schools are hiring more local teachers, which is to the benefit of highly skilled local teachers who might not previously have been considered.
All indications are that 2022 will be the most challenging recruitment market we have yet experienced. With fewer teachers and more jobs to fill compared to the already high watermark of 2018-19 pre-pandemic recruitment season, it does not bode well for schools that are not proactive. Restrictive borders in key countries such as Vietnam, China and Hong Kong where dependent visas are few and far between and ‘Native English Teachers’ required, and with staffing economics often driving hiring decisions in the Middle East, it will certainly be a seller’s market for single teachers and teaching couples from ‘Native English Speaking’ countries without accompanying dependants. Schools can expect particular difficulty recruiting for High School/ Secondary levels.
It is important for all schools to realise that 2022 will be anything but a ’normal’ recruitment year, and as hard a time they had recruiting in 2018-19, it will be even more difficult. Taking proactive steps such as recruiting earlier especially for more challenging subjects, engaging with agencies earlier and more proactively, and trying to retain current staff seem sensible in light of the market conditions.
Diane Jacoutot is the Managing Director of Edvectus, a specialist international school recruitment agency with worldwide offices staffed mainly by internationally experienced ex-teachers and educationalists.
Feature Image: by d4rkwzd on Pixabay