Recruiting Issues Facing International Schools In China

One of the biggest challenges and issues facing international schools in China but also felt around the world, is the growing demand for qualified native English speaking teachers.

Teacher Visa Requirements:

Most international schools in China have strict requirements when it comes to hiring foreign teachers. While many language schools and a few international schools are willing to skirt the law and might hire a wide range of unqualified individuals to teach in their schools, most licensed international schools will not. Those licensed schools have strict requirements when it comes to the curriculum and educational standards. As a result, they’ll have equally strict requirements for the teachers.  They hire teachers with a 4 year university degree and a post graduate degree in education or the equivalent.  They often insist that teachers are a native English speaker. Of course Japanese international schools in China want Japanese native speakers, French want French native speakers… But the largest growth and biggest demand remains for native English speaking qualified teachers.

Growing Demand:

iSc Research Group tracks data on international schools around the world.  According to iSc Group, international schools will need an additional 150,000 qualified teachers by 2021 to match the number of schools worldwide (which had already climbed to more than 8,600 by the start of 2017). By 2021 they expect there will be a demand for over 581,000 qualified teachers for international school postings around the world.

‘ISC Research Consultant for China, Grace Shi, has said when talking about international school development in China, that “Growth is occurring, at a huge pace, in the international schools that are accessible to local Chinese children,” “Waiting lists are extensive at all good international schools and much more school development is expected. Several schools are due to open including the British independent school brands of King’s College School and Lucton School in September 2018, Uppingham School in 2019, and Westminster School in 2020; all of which will be set up to accept Chinese children.”

Demand for great teachers willing to work and live in China will certainly be increasing in the next 5 years. Global demand for qualified teachers will  continues to rise.  Increased pressure will be put on Chinese based international schools and provincial ministries of education.  They have to compete both internationally and among one-another for a share of the limited pool of qualified English speaking teachers.

What’s the solution for international schools in China?

The answer for schools isn’t easy. IT companies have been forced to offer great pay, an attractive culture and vibrant working environment to attract staff. Chinese schools and organisations will be forced to do the same. Attracting qualified teachers to China will require schools to focus on a broad offering.  A good of quality of life, teaching environment and competitive teacher wages are necessary in order to remain competitive.

More and more teachers are becoming sophisticated brokers for themselves. They understand their skill set is in high demand and they research opportunities in detail. The best teachers recognize they have options and that they can choose between a number of opportunities in attractive locales around the world.

Only the schools with great facilities and resources can compete.  Those with strong leadership combined with great pay and working conditions will be able to continue to attract top teachers.

The Role of Recruiters:

International schools in China are turning to recruiters and head hunters for assistance in finding the right teachers for their classrooms. With many teacher boards advertising thousands of jobs, competition to find great candidates is fierce. There is also the time-consuming act of sorting through an ever increasing number of under qualified candidates. Many job boards will accept any applicant’s CV with little or no screening in place. Candidates can apply for any job they see, whether they have the academic background required or not. Add to that the ease with which candidates can apply to dozens of jobs at once.  With a simple click of a mouse, a school’s teacher candidate pool can quickly become overwhelming and unmanageable.

Teacher recruiting companies that apply a headhunting approach can zero in on the right candidates.  They can reduce a schools recruiting workload and the time required to find, attract and hire that perfect candidate.

If you are an international school in China or anywhere else in world and looking for support with your recruiting, please visit Byron Recruitment

If you are teacher looking for a new opportunity visit our Open-Roles page.

The statistics quoted above come from this article at

Contact us today

to learn more or with any questions.