English-speaking teachers rush to the Gulf region
By Darryl Mydat, managing director of specialist education recruitment company, TLTP Teach Global.
December 4, 2013 2:36 by kippreport
The market for English-speaking teachers wanting to work abroad to teach English as a second language is a highly competitive one. Figures suggest there are more than 150 countries around the world in which English-speaking teachers are welcome, while the British Council estimates that there are 1.55 billion people who want to learn English across the globe, as well as an estimated 700,000 native English speakers teaching overseas. While traditionally, the Far East has been the main destination for such teachers, the Gulf region is becoming highly attractive to teachers looking to work experience overseas.
It is recognised throughout the Middle East region that English language skills are integral to compete in western markets. It has become the staple language for international communication, particularly in business. This increase in the use of English has led to an increase in demand for those able to teach it as a foreign language, as well as mainstream expatriate teachers.
Candidates who accept positions in countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman or the UAE, readily tell us that it was among the most intellectually engaging and culturally rewarding experiences of their lives. They enjoy immersing themselves in another culture and relish the chance to learn a new language. Many of them find it presents opportunities and engenders skills that make them more effective and rounded teachers.
The advantage for the institutions in the Gulf region is that they can draw from an increasing pool of interested candidates from native English-speaking countries – the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – all of which will be qualified for the role being offered. Much of the risk to the teacher has been removed and now the risk to the employer is mitigated by specialists who can co-ordinate interviews and screen candidates to find those best suited and qualified.
At TLTP Teach Global, we are seeing a particular interest in posts in further and higher education institutions and universities throughout the Gulf region and in Saudi Arabia. They are attracting interest from teachers frustrated at home by bureaucracy, workload and pressure from the government on standards and curriculum changes and, in some cases, ill-disciplined students. In many cases this is driving experienced teachers out of the profession completely. However, many are being attracted by overseas posts, mainly due to be personal and professional benefits that dwarf the ones they receive at home.
However, an increasing number of newly qualified teachers, struggling to find the kind of job that they want in their domestic market, are also beginning to look overseas as a way of kick-starting their careers, while enjoying the broader horizons that travel and foreign working can offer.
What does this mean in reality? Firstly, of course, many are attracted by the payment packages that are on offer. This means that many can not only earn more than they would in a comparable job in their home countries, but because of the tax advantages, they can return back once they’re financially better off. Yet, there’s more to this than money. Many teachers are attracted by other benefits, from paid travel at the start and end of their contracts, to furnished housing, health care, gym memberships and even the climate.
Fundamentally, though, teaching has become one of the few professions that can readily provide the opportunity to work around the world and grow professionally at the same time. That’s why so many are keen to embrace it.