Teachers in high demand as international schools expand in the GCC

Published September 29th, 2015 - 09:51 GMT
International and Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) conference is currently underway in Dubai. (Shutterstock)
International and Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) conference is currently underway in Dubai. (Shutterstock)

The main challenge for teacher recruitment throughout the Gulf region is that demand is still outstripping supply, experts warned ahead of the forthcoming International and Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) conference to be held in Dubai.

Roddy Hammond, CEO, Worldteachers, UK-based education recruitment experts focused on international assignments, says the demand for international teachers is among the top three challenges facing schools in the Gulf region.

“The other two are choosing the most effective ways to attract candidates, and having the best processes to reduce delays and avoid losing good candidates.”

According to Hammond, each city has its own set of factors that make it attractive.  “Dubai is the best known that most expats identify as a very exciting and safe place to live and visit.

 Abu Dhabi is not quite as high in expats’ minds but those who have done research conclude that there is not a huge difference.

Qatar is gaining more interest, particularly through its association with the World Cup.  Saudi Arabia is popular with some expats, for example, if they are Muslim, they have a closer association due to their religious ties.

It is recognized that teachers are likely to save much more money in Saudi Arabia due to higher than average salaries and less things to spend your money on,” he added.

Based on Worldteachers’ historical data, expat teachers consider competitive compensation packages as the primary factor for accepting teaching positions in the Gulf, citing additional benefits such as such as free accommodation and free transportation that allow them to save a high proportion of their salary.

Other top factors include being able to teach in a safe and stable environment, the English language being very widely spoken, having many shopping and tourist attractions; as well as, in some schools, very modern facilities and excellent resources.

Hammond is one of the featured speakers at the IPSEF Dubai conference, scheduled today (Sept. 29) to Oct. 1, 2015 at the Dubai Knowledge Village Auditorium, where he will share insights on the Secrets of smart recruitment and the challenges facing recruitment in the international education sector.

“The growth of the international schools in the Middle East has led to an increasing number of expatriate educators filling in critical teaching positions in many places across the region.

We hope that the sessions we have dedicated to international teacher recruitment will help decision makers fill in the gap in their schools, by learning where and how to attract expat teachers more effectively and efficiently,” said Rhona Greenhill, co-founder IPSEF.

According to the latest data from ISC Research (part of The International School Consultancy), the leading provider of data and market intelligence on the world’s international schools market which collects data on the nationalities of teachers at premium international schools - these are the prestigious schools that are always in high demand, that have a strong presence in the market, and that are usually members of recognized school associations and accredited – about 48% of all full time teaching staff in Qatar are from the UK, 22% are from North America and 5% are Australian. About 4% of the full time teaching staff in Qatar are local.

In Saudi Arabia’s premium international schools, 24% are from the UK and 23% from North America. 4% are local.

The vast majority of international schools in the UAE (currently a total of 526 employing over 39,000 full time teachers) are considered to be premium international schools.

Of the teachers in these premium schools in the UAE 47% are from the UK, 13% from North America and less than 1% are local.

The global international schools market is growing at pace. In January 2015 international schools around the world were employing a total of 353,000 full time teaching staff.

By 2020, ISC Research predicts there will be a need for 503,000 full time teachers. If international school standards are to continue, this will require the employment of teachers who have the skills and experience to teach the globally recognized curricula such as the National Curriculum of England, the International Baccalaureate and an American curriculum.

Based on the current figures and historical trends, ISC Research predicts that the UAE will be demanding at least 14,000 more expatriate teachers within the next five years.

“This will hopefully help fill the gap for educators as the growth of the international and private schools sector in the Emirates continues its growth trajectory.

Like many others in the Gulf region, the UAE is investing heavily in developing its education sector, as a key driver for future growth,” Greenhill further said.

IPSEF is being held in partnership with Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

It is also supported by Oxford University Press, the Parthenon Group, GL Education, and the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), in association with ISC and UK Trade & Investment.

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