Do experienced teachers get hired faster in UAE?
While higher salary expectations can weigh against older teachers, they are valued for their dedication and wider experience on the job.
Dubai - But is this youth-dominance coupled with ever-changing teaching methods leaving older teachers feeling 'past it'?
By Kelly Clarke
Published: Sun 18 Dec 2016, 8:00 PM
Last updated: Tue 20 Dec 2016, 8:29 AM
The UAE's high teacher turnover is seeing more and more young teachers coming here for short periods of time to pursue the overseas teaching dream.
But is this youth-dominance coupled with ever-changing teaching methods leaving older teachers feeling 'past it'? Well, despite some teachers harbouring the fear of redundancy, changing recruitment trends suggest they need not fear, as experience rules the roost.
Of the 165 expatriate teachers placed in public and private schools by recruitment agency Intelligent Partners in the UAE in 2016, the mean age per applicant was 41 years old, Yinka Coker, Senior Recruiter at the agency told Khaleej Times. "Before, most schools did not hire (older) teachers; however, this might change as such teachers are well-experienced and could possibly offer more than a teacher with two years of experience."
For Garrett O'Dowd, founder of educational recruitment company Teach and Explore, the majority of successful applicants of the 190 teachers he sent to the UAE from Europe in 2015 were "in their early 30s". He said many of the schools he recruits for in the UAE are now looking for teachers with five years' experience or more.
"This is something which was not always the case. But I do feel that schools should have a mix, all the way through from newly qualified teachers to experienced senior staff."
However, although O'Dowd said older teachers "are not becoming redundant" here, he admitted they do face some obstacles which have influenced trends for young teachers. "The main issue facing the recruitment of older teachers is their circumstances. Schools have budgets and older teachers are more likely to have higher salary expectations and more likely to have a family to support."
So when it comes to the selection process, pitting a teacher with five years' experience against one with 20 years and a family to support, he said the school often sways towards the more affordable hire. "This is perhaps what can go against them."
For Andrew Wigford, managing director of TIC Recruitment, approximately 25 per cent of the teachers they sent abroad in 2016 went to the UAE. The average age was 30. But what his schools look for is qualifications first, and experience second. "In the UAE, it is important that teachers have a degree in the subject they are applying for. If a math teacher applied for a job but has an original degree in engineering, he or she may not be approved even if he has a PGCE in Secondary and many years of experience as a maths teacher."
At Scholars International Group, Director of Communications Susan Whistler said this same mode of thinking applies. "At one of our schools, all the teachers must hold a master's degree in education, which automatically bumps up the mean age of teachers."
With a master's degree following a four-year undergraduate degree, she said their average demographic is 35-45 years-old for all teachers at the Scholars Schools. When asked if she thought older teachers have become redundant in an expatriate-filled country like the UAE, she said it's proven to be the opposite. "I've found that older teachers who have stayed at schools here are most often more dedicated educators, without the distractions of the glamorous, youth-driven life in the UAE. Also, many parents prefer an experienced teacher rather than a new or first or second job teacher."