Teachers from overseas are harder to find

Ben Glickman, chief executive of Footprints Recruiting, said firms had difficulty 'finding teachers that want to go to the UAE for the right reasons'.
Jonathan Price, managing director of Eteach International, says the UK domestic demand for early education teachers means there is little surplus for overseas recruiters. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Jonathan Price, managing director of Eteach International, says the UK domestic demand for early education teachers means there is little surplus for overseas recruiters. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

ABU DHABI // Recruiting companies say they are finding it increasingly difficult to find expatriate teachers for the UAE.

Global recovery from the financial crisis of 2008, a shortage of graduates from British and US teaching colleges and a preference for Asia are some of the reasons they give.

This is despite the country remaining a top destination for their teachers.

Many teachers in the West were laid off after the crisis in late 2008, “and we were able to recruit heaps of teachers for the UAE”, said Ash Pugh, operations director for the Canadian company Teach Away, which provides teachers for public and private schools.

“Now things are really back on the uptick so a lot of teachers are able to go home because the opportunities are available.”

Jonathan Price, managing director of Eteach International, a UK recruiting company with a branch in Dubai, said there were difficulties in finding enough British early education teachers.

“There’s what’s been deemed in the UK as the perfect storm, because the demand for teachers is growing and yet the supply of teachers in the UK is the lowest it’s been for eight years,” Mr Price said.

“The biggest demand is for British teachers and yet in Britain there are not enough teachers to meet the demand domestically. So there is no surplus of teachers able to go overseas.”

The annual turnover rate at local international private schools is said to be about 20 per cent, recruiters said, while at public schools the number was higher.

“Public is probably going to be higher – I’d say it could even be about 50 per cent – and the reason for this is some of the public schools are in Al Gharbia, which is very far,” said Ash Waheed, senior international consultant for SeekTeachers in the UK.

Ben Glickman, chief executive of Footprints Recruiting, said firms had difficulty “finding teachers that want to go to the UAE for the right reasons”.

“Some teachers are attracted by the image of the UAE, particularly Dubai, as a ‘fun in the sun’ destination,” Mr Glickman said. “They view it as a holiday and not a job.

“We focus on finding teachers who realise they are going there for a job, and not a vacation.”

Recruiters said the UAE was also facing competition from Asian countries.

“What we experienced this year for a lot of teachers when we’re pitching the Middle East to them, they’re saying they don’t want to go to the Middle East and they want to actually head towards Asia,” Mr Glickman said.

He said reasons for this included more relaxed laws on unmarried couples cohabiting and the cheaper cost of living, but the UAE was still his agency’s most popular destination.

The security situation in neighbouring countries has not been a major issue, Mr Glickman said.

“Those who go, do their homework and understand that the UAE is a very safe country. I see more crimes committed, violence and drug use in downtown Vancouver every day than I have ever seen in the UAE.”

Mr Pugh, whose company has recruited nearly 4,000 teachers to the UAE over the years, said teachers were not attracted only by the higher salaries in this country.

“One of the things we hear from educators is that they’re really impressed with the commitment that the public school groups like Adec have placed on education, and that this committed investment, they feel, is lacking in their own countries,” said Mr Pugh.

“Educators, they’re motivated in a different way. They also have very strong, intrinsic motivation for what they do.

“Educators really want to know that their work is valued and that the work and effort that they make has a lasting impact.”

rpennington@thenational.ae

Published: September 21, 2015 04:00 AM

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