Saudi Arabia ESL Recruitment Processes Are Changing.

It takes time; some would say much too much time, for markets to react to changes in supply and demand as it is human nature to resist change as it is the easier option to flow with the crowd.

Educating clients can seem like pushing water uphill but if you believe in offering best advice rather than solely chasing commission, you will be prepared to be controversial and back your own views and attempt to bring about change.

Sometimes you need an outside catalyst to help and in one area we think through European Recruitment Agency we might be that experience, that change, which might just cause a difference of mind set in the whole sector.

So what are we talking about?

The English Second Language teaching sector in the Middle East.

Here are the market dynamics:

  • Demand is rising rapidly for Native born English speakers with appropriate experience.
  • International competition is increasing quickly and will get greater as other emerging countries invest in education.
  • The supply side from the main English speaking countries is not increasing in line with demand.
  • There are more educational establishments chasing the same applicants.
  • The result is that the price goes up as teachers recognise their worth but it is about more than just money.

The Middle East style does not lead to confidence among Western candidates.

  • Communication can be poor in terms of quality of information.
  • It can take weeks to get clients to provide a basic marketing package.
  • Response times vary enormously but are generally slow and frequently inconsistent.
  • Headline package rates are just that – a tease, or come on, to pull people in and then below market offers are made.

So are there alternatives – yes but you need to break the mould of tradition and do things differently:

  • You need to be in the market place year round and consistently marketing with competitive offers for both male and female teachers, whilst respecting local traditions and specific requirements.
  • You need to broaden your catchment to include anybody suitable that can teach ESL and the obsession with “native born English speakers” needs to be challenged. As we understand it this is driven by teaching establishments undertakings to parents and here they are failing in the very subject they teach – education. Surely any school or university wants the best teachers and there are many fine teachers for example from Europe, the Philippines and Turkey as well as closer to home in places like Jordan.
  • You need to improve visa processing and look at age levels and utilise the skills built up over a life time in the education profession.

Is it going to happen? The answer has to be yes, but the timing remains uncertain but “the times they are a changing” with leadership coming from probably the most international of Saudi’s big players.

Who are we talking about? Saudi Aramco no less which is changing the approach to the market place.

  • Know what they want and are willing to pay.
  • Know what they will pay, but are flexible.
  • Have a clear strategy, that is different
  • Wider recruitment criteria to catch the best teachers.
  • Age limited to 55 which unfortunately disqualifies highly experienced teachers in the age band of 56-59 but may ease visa issuance
  • Visas – Iqamas only, thus avoiding the horror stories of visa abuse. It will still take 6-8 weeks to get a visa.

2013 could come as a real shock to the Education sector in Saudi Arabia, unless they follow the lead given by Saudi Aramco and are better prepared in every respect as the hunt for ESL teaching talent is global and salaries will rise as a consequence of supply and demand.

As an international recruitment agency we welcome approaches from Employers worldwide that are struggling with skills shortages.


Author: Christopher Slay



Why is
European Labour in
High Demand?