The last few months have challenged us all. In many ways, the pandemic has forced us to rethink traditional practices as we move forward cautiously.
With all of the uncertainty in the world today, recruiting top teaching talent shouldn’t be another challenge you are facing.
We wanted to take a closer look at how other international schools are weathering the situation. In this blog post, we’ll put the spotlight on BASIS International Schools.
BASIS International Schools currently operate six international schools across China and Thailand. They pride themselves in delivering high-quality education by combining the BASIS curriculum with highly qualified teaching experts. BASIS International Schools is headed on a growth trajectory with plans to open new schools throughout China in the next few years.
We sat down with the Vice President of Global Talent Strategy, Timothy Smith, from BASIS International Schools to get his insight on the challenges of recruiting during a pandemic, how BASIS has adapted their recruitment strategy to compete in a difficult recruitment market and what measures they’ve taken as an organization to support and retain their existing staff.
Keep reading to learn about how BASIS International Schools are proactively dealing with unique recruitment challenges brought on by the pandemic.
Q&A with BASIS International Schools
1. What type of teachers is BASIS looking to hire and how many teachers do you typically hire in a given year?
BASIS: Because our schools’ network has been growing rapidly (seven new schools in the last five years), we have been hiring a significant number of new teachers each of the last five years.
Overall, we will likely continue to hire between 100 and 200 new teachers each year.
When we open a new school, we typically hire around 50 new ex-pat teachers for the new location and this has been a significant contributor to the number of hires we have needed.
Historically, our new schools’ enrollment has grown between 50-100% in the second year, which continues to drive the hiring numbers across our network, even after the initial opening year.
For the 2021-22 school year, we seek teachers for posts in all of our network’s schools. We’re looking for everything from Early Years teachers to Primary Homeroom and Subject teachers to subject-specific middle and high school teachers.
2. Has your approach to recruiting changed since COVID? If so, how has it changed?
BASIS: Since our recruiting efforts encompass a relatively wide variety of channels, most of which are already virtual or online, compared with previous years, our recruiting activities haven’t changed tremendously from what we have done through this point in the hiring season.
Aside from the obvious elimination of in-person career fairs that aren’t being conducted this year, our outreach has been fairly consistent through our social channels, advertising, and our blog.
Something that has changed is the focus and attention we pay to sharing with prospective candidates what our schools have done through the COVID pandemic to demonstrate the level of care and support our teachers have received over the last year and what they can reasonably expect in the support they would receive, were they to join BASIS International Schools.
3. Are you currently recruiting for positions?
BASIS: Absolutely! Our schools are continuing to grow this year and we are seeking exceptional teachers to be a part of continuing the culture of our schools that has produced exceptional results for our students.
4. Why did you choose to partner with Teach Away to support your recruitment needs?
BASIS: Partnering with Teach Away has given our schools broader exposure to teachers around the world. The prominence of Teach Away in search results and other online channels were key factors in our decision and have helped increase our schools’ awareness among teachers internationally.
5. Do virtual recruiting fairs work as well as in-person recruitment fairs?
BASIS: Virtual fairs have been a good way for us to initially engage with candidates. While we don’t have the benefit of getting to know each other as well as we do in-person, we see this as an option in the current environment where in-person fairs are not viable.
6. What were your thoughts on the last Teach Away online fair in October?
BASIS: One of the things I like about the online fairs we participate in with Teach Away is the virtual interface of the technology that Teach Away employs.
The platform allows us to engage in a short chat or conversation with one candidate at a time, the same as we would at an in-person fair, to make decisions on moving forward with any particular candidate.
The short conversations have allowed us to ask candidate-specific questions, review their information to determine if they are a potential fit and schedule a time for an initial interview. The interface is about as close to the in-person experience as we have seen for virtual fairs.
7. From your perspective, how has the teaching talent pool changed since COVID?
BASIS: We have seen a decrease in the number of educators pursuing opportunities abroad. I think that COVID has created a measure of uncertainty that people are already struggling with. The thought of moving to a new country would bring additional uncertainty that some feel overwhelmed with.
The nice thing about the BASIS International School locations is that COVID has been well managed and the schools are fully functioning with in-class instruction for our students.
There is a greater sense of safety and security where our schools are that many other educators see and find attractive compared to the situation they find in their home countries.
8. What are your top two challenges currently with recruitment?
BASIS: Certainly, the low number of teachers looking to go abroad this year. This has then created a qualitative issue in finding the level of exceptional teachers our schools have come to know.
9. Have your challenges changed since pre-pandemic times? How do your current obstacles compare to those from a typical year?
BASIS: The global pandemic seems to have compounded most challenges in our lives these days and our recruiting work is no exception. Travel restrictions and increased immigration limitations have been significant factors that have been a challenge we have had to work through.
10. What is BASIS doing to retain existing teachers given the challenges in recruiting new ones?
BASIS: Throughout the pandemic, and continuing through the onboarding of our new hires for this year, BASIS International Schools have done an exceptional job of taking care of our teachers and in many cases went well above and beyond the call of duty to support some unique needs.
During the quarantine period, the school operations teams delivered food and supplies to the teachers’ homes to address their temporal needs and scheduled virtual social gatherings and group exercise classes for their physical and social needs. Our teams also checked in frequently to support their mental well-being.
For the new hires, even those who weren’t able to get to China by the first days of school due to travel and immigration restrictions, BASIS guaranteed employment for all the hired teachers and completed regular immigration steps.
Also, global health coverage was provided to those outside the country, and we even provided funding to teachers who hadn’t arrived yet, to help with living costs until they could get to their school location.
The display of care for our teachers has been unsurpassed and we have already had a higher retention rate this year than in previous years. Many of our teachers have recognized the unique level of care they have received and choose to continue to be a part of an organization that has uniquely demonstrated the value teachers have with us.
11. In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about the international education landscape today?
BASIS: I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have in considering teaching abroad is thinking about how difficult it will be to adapt to a new country or culture.
While there will always be cultural and language differences, our teachers have been pleasantly surprised to find out how convenient life is and can access most of the things they would want or need anyway. They thought it would be harder to adapt than what their experience actually was.
We hope you found these answers helpful and insightful or can find solace in knowing that you’re not alone.
It looks like beyond the pandemic, digital recruitment is here to stay. But online recruitment doesn’t have to be complicated. When it’s done right it can often lead to better results than traditional recruitment methods.
Does your school need help navigating the world of online recruitment?
We’ve been in the online international recruitment industry for over two decades, helping schools worldwide find the teachers they’re looking for quicker and at a lower cost.
We’re here to help you streamline online recruitment during these uncertain times.
Join us and other leading international schools like BASIS at one of our upcoming online fairs. At one of our online fairs, you can expand your reach and meet hundreds of teachers who are interested in teaching abroad.
Or take a look at some of our online recruitment services to find a solution that fits your unique school’s needs.
BASIS International Schools is actively recruiting on our platform with many great vacancies available. Learn more here.