Dubai schools set to welcome 1,480 new teachers this year
Two of Dubai's biggest schooling organisations are set to welcome 1,480 new teachers and school leaders to their networks for the upcoming academic year, adding to the more than 18,800 teachers already working in Dubai.
Despite a slight decrease from last year's new teacher recruits (for both organisations) as well as a stagnation of salaries across some schools this year, teachers are continuing to transition overseas for better salary packages, career progression and new experiences.
Speaking to several international teacher recruitment agencies, successful applicants are coming in from Ireland, Canada, the UK and US predominantly, as well as some GCC countries.
For the 2018/19 academic year, Gems Education will be welcoming onboard 1,300 teachers to its network; 400 less than last year (1,700).
And Taaleem will be welcoming 180 new recruits; a dip on the 216 figure from the 2017/18 academic year.
According to current Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) figures, there are 18,832 teachers working across Dubai's private schools; including 3,150 teaching assistants. However, this is a slight underestimate as not all schools have sent their data to the authority for the current year.
With 13 new schools set to open across the city for the upcoming 2018/19 academic year, the 1,480 figure for new recruits may increase too, as some agencies are still working with schools here to finalise job roles.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Brendan Law, vice-president, British Cluster Lead at Gems Education, said it will make every effort to settle new staff quickly.
"This academic year, the Induction Week will culminate in an Awareness Day where over 1,300 new teachers and leaders will be joining the Gems Education family. All our new teachers across the UAE will come together in Dubai for a welcome day filled with fun events as well as professional development sessions."
When it comes to the single most asked question by international teachers during the interview stage, Law said opportunities for professional development is a big pull for new recruits.
Overseas teacher recruitment trends
From August, Garrett O'Dowd, founder of Teach and Explore (an international educational recruitment agency), which supplies many Dubai schools with teachers from the UK and Ireland, said numbers have changed this year, but not dramatically.
"We haven't finalised numbers just yet as we still have jobs going in the UAE. But at the moment we have 120 new recruits confirmed for August and we expect to get that number up to 160 by next month. I have seen a slight dip in new recruits for this year compared to last."
Though interest still remains in the UAE, he said packages have gone down slightly from two, three and four years ago.
"There's not as much room for manoeuvre in negotiating contracts anymore. As such, the more experienced teachers aren't moving up a scale, comparable to other years."
Having said that though, O'dowd said the UAE is "still advantageous for teachers".
"It's still a good package compared to their home countries, but if the trend remains, our recruitment numbers to that region won't go up. It will stay about the same and schools will struggle to find particular teachers for particular subjects."
Package is important
Freda Atukule, recruitment consultant at Intelligent Partners, who recruits teachers from "English native speaking countries mainly", said this region has a reputation for both better living and better salary. So with packages noted as the biggest lure for the teachers they recruit, trends could change if salaries don't pick up again.
"What drives 90 per cent of teachers who come to this region is the package. If they cut the package, teachers numbers will decrease and those already here will leave. It makes no sense for them to stay away from home and earn less or the same as they would back home."
In terms of specialities, several recruitment agencies said there is a huge shortage of maths and science teachers, globally. So the majority of those being hired from overseas fit these criteria.