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Southern cities and provinces in Vietnam short of English teachers

Southern cities and provinces in Vietnam short of English teachers

Monday, September 26, 2022, 18:14 GMT+7
Southern cities and provinces in Vietnam short of English teachers
A teacher instructs a student in a class at the H123 English Center in Binh Duong province. Photo: Khanh Vinh / Tuoi Tre

At the start of the new school year, there is a shortage of English teachers not only in public schools but also in private centers for foreign language teaching in Ho Chi Minh City and southern localities, though teachers are being offered great advantages.

Tran Ngoc Duc, deputy director of H123 English Afterschool Center with eight branches in Binh Duong Province bordering Ho Chi Minh City, said his network of centers is back in operation since March after being closed for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, more teachers have been recruited since then as the number of existing teachers cannot meet learners' demands.

Most foreign language centers are suffering from a shortage of both Vietnamese and foreign teachers.

At the same time, at the beginning of the new school year, the number of students has increased by one and a half times, sometimes even two times, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Income increases of 30 percent for recruitment

According to Duc, many English centers in Binh Duong used to not recruit their own teachers and instead asked a mid-level human resources partner to do it for them.

For example, if a center needs teachers for a new semester, the partner will provide them.

However, at the moment, some of these job placement partners also have a shortage of teachers and cannot share with the centers as usual.

Duc explained that the shortage of English teachers is related to the fact that many large enterprises, especially enterprises with foreign investment capital, are restructuring their workforces after a prolonged period of stagnation due to COVID-19.

To this end, companies have launched large recruitment campaigns offering high incomes and many other benefits to attract employees with foreign language skills.

English centers are among the last services that were allowed to reopen in the new normal post-pandemic situation. Because of this, many people who used to be English teachers changed jobs.

"As for foreign teachers, it is very difficult to keep them even if the average salary increased by 20 to 30 percent," Duc said.

A representative of a center with five English branches in Dong Nai, the province located east and northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, reported the same.

He believed that the shortage of English teachers has existed for a long time but has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

To solve the problem, the company needs to rotate its teachers between centers.

For example, a teacher must rotate between centers to cover classes. On days when there are fewer classes, the center's teachers are assigned to other centers to assist.

"Part-time work"

According to Cao Thi Ngoc, a representative of the EVAC International English Center based in Binh Duong, many people have found working as English teachers at a center unsafe after two years of the pandemic. 

They experienced being fired or not receiving a salary when something unexpected happens, depending on whom they work for. 

As a result, according to Ngoc's observation, there are more and more English teachers who found another job and consider teaching English in centers only as a side job.

Tran Ngoc Duc believed that the current shortage of English teachers cannot be solved in the short term, especially in small- and medium-sized foreign language centers. 

In his opinion, centers are currently competing not only with others but also with enterprises in various industries when it comes to English-speaking staff. 

According to Duc, thanks to stronger financial resources, enterprises in other sectors have a greater advantage in attracting staff with English skills than those in the education sector. 

In addition, many education centers are already facing great difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his opinion, well-funded centers with good human resources policies can retain their teachers, while others have to rely completely on people who consider teaching English as their second job.

Duc suggested a way to train enough English teachers in the long run. According to him, it would be more sustainable to cooperate with universities that have English departments and offer them more benefits.

Meanwhile, education centers can cooperate with these universities in various activities to promote their companies to students who may want to become their employees after graduation. 

In this way, teaching at English centers can become more attractive to students. At least, the centers can ask them to work in the first two years after graduation, Duc said.

A representative of Viet My Group (VMG), which has 10 branches in Dong Nai province, said they always need to offer more incentives to have enough teachers to meet the demands of a new school year.

In addition to salaries and bonuses, VMG teachers can also receive a commission if they help the company recruit high-quality English teachers.

The commission can be up to VND5 million (US$211) if the teacher recruited is a foreigner.

Work 11 hours a day

X.B., 24, a Spanish national, has been working as a full-time English teacher for a large foreign language center in Ho Chi Minh City for one month. In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, X.B. said he felt overwhelmed by the long duration and workload in the past month.

X.B. said that he and other colleagues have to work overtime because the center is short of teachers.

The number of available instructors can only meet 70 percent of the demand.

"I work a total of 11 hours a day. Of course, it is nice that the center pays me the money for the overtime, but the workload is so high because of the staff shortage," said the Spanish teacher.

"Besides teaching, I also have to take care of office work, which is also very time-consuming. I am often assigned to other branches of the company where there are fewer teachers.

"Sometimes I come to Thu Duc City, other times to District 1 or Go Vap District," X.B. added.

How to keep English teachers?

One of the solutions VMG has applied to retain its teachers is to provide them with opportunities for professional development.

There is a widespread belief that it is difficult to make a good career as a teacher in private education centers compared to other professional environments.

Therefore, VMG provides opportunities for its lecturers to participate in courses to develop their professional skills.

The more the teachers commit to the center in the long term, the larger subsidies they can receive from the center when they attend courses.

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Kim Thoa - Trong Nhan / Tuoi Tre News


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