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Recruiting and retaining international teachers in Saudi Arabia’s rapidly evolving education landscape presents unique challenges for schools.

In this podcast episode of School of Talk, our host Ryan speaks with Christopher McKenzie, Academic Director at Ajialuna Schools and experienced recruiter, to uncover effective strategies for attracting top talent and ensuring their success in a new cultural context.

Chris provides insights into the transformative goals of Vision 2030 and the critical role education plays in achieving them.

From innovative recruitment practices to comprehensive onboarding processes, this episode explores how schools can thrive in the competitive Saudi education market while providing an exceptional experience for international educators.

Episode Highlights:

  1. Focus on Saudi Arabia and Vision 2030
  2. Changes in Saudi Arabia Over the Last Decade
  3. Understanding Vision 2030
  4. Impact of Vision 2030 on Education
  5. Recruitment and Retention of Teachers
  6. Future Outlook and Mega Projects in Saudi Arabia

What is Vision 2030?

Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s ambitious long-term strategy to transform the country’s economy, society, and global position.

In the context of education, it aims to modernize the Saudi education system, promote international standards, and develop local talent to reduce reliance on oil and create a knowledge-based economy. 

This vision has led to significant investments in international schools, curriculum development, and initiatives to attract top-tier educators from around the world.

The Future of Saudi Education and the Vision 2030

With the country’s ambitious development plans, the demand for quality educators is soaring. Christopher reveals that his school group alone recruits nearly 150 new teachers and leaders annually.

To meet this demand, they’ve adopted a multi-faceted approach, combining online platforms, social media, and face-to-face recruitment fairs.

“You really have to cast a net wide when you’re looking at fitting 150 spaces. You can’t just rely on one channel,” Christopher explains.

He particularly praises the effectiveness of the Teach Away platform, noting that their entire leadership team for the year was sourced through it.

The Power of Face-to-Face Recruitment

Despite the digital age, Christopher’s school group has found remarkable success with face-to-face recruitment events. These in-person interactions provide invaluable insights into candidates’ characters and potential cultural fit.

Christopher shares, “From the top of my head, around 60 of them were from face-to-face interviews. … That face-to-face interaction that we get as leaders, as interviewers, it really does give you a deep insight into the character of the person that you’re interviewing.”

Building a Strong Retention Strategy

Recruiting talented teachers is only half the battle; retaining them is equally crucial. Christopher’s school system boasts an impressive average tenure of three to four years for international teachers. This success is attributed to a comprehensive onboarding process and ongoing support system.

“We take it slow, we break it down in chunks,” Christopher explains. “This year we’re implementing a mentor system, where those new candidates are coming over, they’re gonna be buddied up with an experienced teacher from Saudi Arabia, from Alpha Sign International Schools.”

Competing in a Growing Market

As Saudi Arabia’s education sector expands rapidly, competition among international schools is intensifying. Christopher notes, “From what I understand this year alone in Riyadh alone, there’s six new schools opening up.”

To stay competitive, schools must focus on maintaining quality education while offering attractive packages to teachers.Christopher observes an interesting trend:

“Teachers that are coming from the UAE to Saudi Arabia. Obviously, as you mentioned, we’re able to have better packages. The standard, the cost of living in particular compared to Dubai as well, it’s quite low from what I understand.”

The Future of International Education in Saudi Arabia

The future looks bright for international education in Saudi Arabia, with numerous mega-projects and investments on the horizon. Christopher is optimistic about the country’s trajectory: “I’m seeing achievement after achievement, milestone after milestone, announcement after announcement, investment after investment.

If they continue on this trajectory, definitely they’re gonna be on the world stage as a key player.”In conclusion, successfully recruiting and retaining international teachers in Saudi Arabia requires a multifaceted approach that combines innovative recruitment strategies, comprehensive onboarding processes, and ongoing support.

Key takeaways:

  • Diversify recruitment channels, including online platforms, social media, and face-to-face events
  • Implement a thorough onboarding process with mentorship programs
  • Focus on building a positive school culture to improve retention
  • Stay competitive by offering attractive packages and highlighting the benefits of living in Saudi Arabia
  • Keep an eye on the rapidly evolving education landscape and upcoming opportunities in new developments

Where to listen to this episode of School of Talk

Whether you are a teacher, a school administrator, or a parent, this episode shed light on the IB’s mission to create a better and more peaceful world through education.

 Spotify | Apple | YouTube

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