such as the American Academy of School Heads have
expressed a growing concern
over the dwindling pool of international teaching candidates. Of
course, such a shortage affects every schools' bottom line and so it's
no wonder a task force is being formed
to identify and resolve the problem. ISR readers have, however, already
begun discussing the cause and solution to the current situation and
posted their thoughts to the ISR Forum. Here's
what ISR readers are saying about the "International Teaching-Candidate
to schools that were looking to hire at New York - there were 3-4
times as many openings
Certainly a teacher's market. That being said, some schools walked
away only having hired a fraction of their openings. Surveys would
have to be taken to determine the reasons for this with any reliability,
but for those of us who've been in the circuit awhile, an obvious
reason comes to mind: Pay and benefits.
Whereas international school salaries were once typically 1.5 -
2 times Stateside salaries (not counting the tax -free aspect)
to other benefits, many schools
now count the tax benefit AND the housing so that they can claim
to be more attractive than
salaries. And the Canadians? Getting paid in US
currency, which so many schools offer, has certainly not been a
benefit in recent years.
Rather than address the pay question, which most boards loathe
to do, schools have begun to fill positions from markets where
the salaries are less than in the US, thus an influx
of teachers from Australia,
New Zealand, or South Africa.
How can school boards and directors expect teachers to flood
them with applications in markets where TEACHERS
are the ONLY expats from western countries getting paid equal,
or less, than
would at home? In the Middle East, the huge number
of expats whose children fill the schools are there because they
get such attractive
salaries compared to their home countries. Not so for the teachers.
Look at schools which have truly excellent pay packages. They demand
high performance from teachers, but reimburse them accordingly.
They have no difficulty attracting applicants. Many administrators
about having to compete with Shanghai American School
last year for applicants, as SAS was hiring so many teachers and
offered such attractive pay and benefits. The solution was that
went back to their boards and demanded to remain competitive. Those
that did not had the same complaints this year. Oh, but it was
the fault of the teacher shortage!
just finished reading the TIE newspaper, and in it they discussed
the teacher shortage in the international
school community. My question is this - Of all the teachers from
my school that went to the job fairs, I never heard anyone saying
that the schools were "banging down the door" for teachers.
Several of them didn't get jobs at the fair (New York comes to
mind) and quite frankly, these were pretty good teachers in fairly
demand areas. I heard that New York was actually very picky and
they did not get many interviews. Does this make sense? If
there is a shortage of teachers, why are the schools so picky?
it that the really good schools have an abundance of applications
and the others
have almost nothing?
The complaint of a 'worker shortage'
is not unique to international teaching. Computer programmers and
engineers have been hearing media reports of 'high-tech worker
shortages' for years. And yet, rather than employ the ready supply
American programmers at a livable wage, companies instead choose
to export the work to lower-paid countries. What
the industry is actually lamenting is the shortage of workers that
they can exploit
at a lower
wage than their education should dictate.
If parents would let the
schools replace us with Indian teachers, they would. There is no
teacher shortage, and teachers will appear out of the woodwork
as soon as wages become worth the difficulty of living in an undeveloped
I've never heard the UN complain
that they simply can't find employees willing to go to Egypt for
USD $70,000 a year
Simply put, wages have not risen to match the inflation caused
by the drop in value of the American
dollar. A twenty percent depreciation in one year in any profession
would cause people to leave in droves. Short-sighted, profit-driven
schools will see the exchange rate benefit of tuition vs salaries
as a potential windfall...and then ask "Where did all the
teachers go?" Gee, if they could just entice a few more 1st
year teachers over to work for peanuts all of their problems would
The international teaching circuit is looking more and more like
in Taiwan all the time. Except for a few long standing schools,
the professionalism is over. It's 'a warm body in the classroom'
wages match inflation. I'll finish my contract and then go home.
corporatization of our schools has become increasingly apparent.
Money is the
line, even in the non-profit schools, depending upon their boards.
While the benefits of diversifying the teaching staffs at various
schools by hiring from many different English speaking countries
are certainly unarguable; (our teachers from Australia, New Zealand,
and South Africa add depth and charm to the school) the fact remains
that one of their attractions to the administration is their willingness
to work for lower wages than Americans and Canadians;
this is undeniable. Notice the addition of hiring fairs in locales
which serve these populations and their growing popularity.
articles in TIE talk about American teachers being unaware of
overseas opportunities. That may be so, but when we recently
left public school positions to return overseas, most
of our Stateside colleagues had the same reaction, "why?" Why
would be leave better paying jobs (in terms of salary) and home
for lesser pay? Honestly,
had we not originally (years ago) left for other reasons and found
out the pleasures of working
international environment, with both staff and students, we would
not have considered it. As inflation soars and our
salaries fail to compensate, we still wonder frequently why we
of the TIE articles quotes Cairo school head, Monica Greeley,
who stated that "what had worked at her school especially
in terms of retaining teachers was restructuring the pay scale
so that it didn’t take 20 years for teachers to make the
money they deserved." That's a commendable idea. Now, how
about the teachers who HAVE been in the business 20 years or more?
they switch schools, are they put on the same pay step as teachers
20 years their junior with far less education and experience? How
many schools honor what those teachers bring to the classroom?
what another teacher has already concluded appears
to be true: "What
[the overseas education] industry is actually lamenting is the
shortage of workers that they can exploit at a lower wage than
their education should dictate." Maybe all of those who have
allowed this to happen to ourselves should follow his example and
go home, or at least to one of the schools where the heads DO get
it, and pay their staff as if they are the most valuable resource
they have, which they are.
While what I am about to write is based more on perception,
I think it holds some water nonetheless; this is my 8th year as an
international teacher, and 11th as a teacher in general.
I think a major reason for a shortage is that candidates are picky;
I've been to 5 fairs in the past years, and at each one it
seems the majority of people are going with one or two schools in
mind, and if that school doesn't work out, then they go home. Heads
of school would thus perceive a shortage. I doubt the head of a school
in Rome would see a shortage, whereas a head in Colombia might.
schools continue to open, using the moniker of being international,
when they're just profit schools. My first job
was at Seoul Foreign School in 2000. At that time, there were 3 other
international schools besides SFS, and not all of them were "international." All
the students were Korean, and the schools were profit-motivated.
Now, at my count, there are something like 9-11 schools in Korea
claiming to be international. These schools go to the fairs, and
might siphon off a few unwitting young, inexperienced candidates.
Or, they simply flood the market with jobs that don't get filled,
thus creating the statistic that there are more jobs than teachers.
3) From everything I read from home (USA) there is a teacher shortage
there, and that would logically lead to a shortage of people overseas.
With the exception of one person, everyone I graduated from college
with has left education; most did so in two year's time.
think schools need to form an ultra-selective fair. This doesn't
mean candidate entry, but school entry. They should
create a criteria of what it means to be an international school
(student body makeup, philosophy, accreditation, etc) and only allow
those schools in the fair. Thus, instead of having 10 schools from
Korea, there would only be 1 or 2. This would benefit candidates
as well, and root out some of the poorer schools which seem to be
the source of so much angst on this web site.
perception is the number of 'bad' schools to 'good' is rising.
Security in your position, top notch admin, professional
development opportunities, stable curriculums, honest reporting procedures
cannot be assured in many of the schools who like to call themselves
international. Take the example of ENS, it gets many negative feedbacks
but claims it has CIS backing and IB status. It advertises on,
what were once
reputable sites and attends fairs. Why
would you pay out an enormous amount of money to attend a fair, when
there is no protection
schools like ENS? I like the
idea of an ultra selective fair, a fair where applicants could trust
that schools had been vetted. Another reason is wages. I have been
working overseas for ten years now and in real terms my wages have
dropped. It used to be financially
rewarding for me to work overseas. I would work overseas again if
the above things were assured.
have been many posts on why certain schools don't attract or retain
teachers. They pay crap, they treat
teachers terribly, they don't honor contracts, the classroom atmosphere
bad and their administration is poor.
Right now I'm in the Chicagoland area. Go down into many parts of
Chicago and there is a teacher shortage. There's a shortage because
people don't want to teach there. The conditions are horrendous.
God bless those that do, but most don't.
Go to the magnet schools or the suburban schools. They pay well.
Conditions are great. They don't have a teacher shortage.
far as teachers being picky --- I guess I fall into that group
to some extent. I want my kids to go to a good school. I want to
valued and paid well. I'll work my ass off for a good admin and support
a school that values my efforts. So when I look at a job fair like
UNI and see a few 'top tier' schools, those are the
ones I'm shooting for.
I'm not going to take any job paying a fraction of what I can get
in the US, with marginal benefits, no retirement, no security and
a questionable track record. I'm not going to relocate my family
on the hollow promises of any school.
schools want good candidates, pay them well with good benefits.
They'll get teachers. Twenty years ago ASIR in Riyadh paid probably
some of the best benefits and salary around --- maybe they still
do. It was a very desirable school. You could save more money than
places, travel and live well (or as well as you could in a compound).
They got teachers to come to what some would consider a 'difficult'
environment because they paid well.
years ago SE Asia had ISB, ISKL, SAS & JIS. There were
a few smaller schools in Singapore; Overseas and Tanglin. That was
it. Now SE Asian schools include a
turgid pool of for-profit 'schools' that pollute job fairs with jobs
paying nothing, cycling through
staff who sign 2-year contracts only to have them break contract
when they find out what the schools are really like.
I'm paying several grand to attend a job fair, possibly to get
treated poorly, I'm going to be picky. If schools think
teachers are going to fawn over exotic locations and be willing
to forgo 20-30%
of US pay to relocate their families to questionable situations,
they're dreaming. If schools can't pay, they can at least present
a professional, collaborative and supportive school. Hire good people
and support them.
the job fairs will have to start throwing out the crap schools.
They'll have to start setting some kind of criteria- or
yes, people will go elsewhere.
I first started out in international education back in the very
early 1970's, I was
a teacher in Seoul, Korea. It was an excellent school, and that initial
positive experience led me to more than 33 years of overseas teaching
(plus a few years teaching in the States). At
the job fairs in the 1970's and 1980's, the only schools there were
the best ones
I simply did not hear of "for-profit" schools much. Also,
I compared the salaries to Stateside salaries, and again, it seemed
a very good
choice to be teaching overseas...................
our school said neighboring schools at the New York Recruiting Fair
spent the entire time interviewing, made many offers and got few
They claim it was the teachers being choosy. Our school also made
many offers and received few acceptances. Teachers' reluctance
consider locales that weren't on their radar and an
unwillingness on the part of US teachers - as well as teachers coming
from top end schools - to take large salary
cuts resulted in non acceptance of job offers. Despite inflation
in the area of our school, the package looks nowhere near
as good as it did
ago. Plus, teachers' workloads have increased - both in terms of
student load and additional expectations - like just about every
educational initiative someone can sell them. One gets the feeling
that the teacher "shortage" will continue
to affect certain areas of the world while schools in China, Singapore,
Indonesia and eastern Europe will wonder, what shortage?
When I last interviewed at UNI
it was before 9/11. The dollar was relatively strong. Schools in
the Middle East were attractive for not only their packages but it
was seen as a viable
destination by many teachers. Europe was more expensive but still
affordable. Now the Middle East is not as attractive to many because
of current events. Europe is seen as being too expensive and the
quality of for-profits hurts as well.
It's simply the free market. Those
schools that don't compensate well and treat teachers poorly
will not attract
I can tell you that there is also
a shortage in Singapore and Indonesia. Some schools don't have to
worry about this because there will always
be people wanting to work there (read JIS, et al), however many middle
tier international schools are feeling the pinch. Singapore especially
is not as attractive as it once was because of the rising costs,
mainly rent which has blown way out.
The entire middle east is experiencing
extreme inflation. In Egypt, where I am, it is approx 25% this year
It has affected everything from the price of chicken to flights out
of the country. Our management's response was to increase tuition
by about 15%. Our Salaries? Not a dime more did we receive! The attitude
seems to be that as long as teachers will sign-up, why bother? From
seen over the past few years, the international circuit is in a state
of serious decay. The middle career teachers (in their 30's and 40's)
are leaving in droves and being replaced by first year teachers and
'double dippers', retired teachers collecting a pension from home
who just need enough money to cover green fees in a warmer climate.
The schools will survive, but the quality is going to suffer. First
year teachers can be great if supported, but the 'double dippers'
are too burnt out to bother.
As long as the school
gives benefits that keep teachers in the income class they expect,
they'll come. Some schools are rationalizing
the fact that salaries haven't changed much in 10 years by saying
that the cost of living is much cheaper than in North America. What
they don't mention is that you'll be living like a local laborer,
not a middle class teacher, if you follow
the guidelines they provide.