Looking to 2024: the challenges facing the education sector in the year ahead

​In this article, Ceni Venugopalan, Education Specialist of Reed's education division in the Middle East, discusses the challenges faced by UAE schools in 2024 and how the profession needs to tackle the issues head on to continuously ensure that high education standards are maintained and presented opportunities are not ignored.

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about 1 month ago

According to LinkedIn, 22,035 education professionals changed their jobs over the past year, while 562 jobs were opened. This highlights to us a challenge in recruiting and retaining talent in the UAE.

Overall, the number of skilled education professionals across the UAE has gone down by 4% and the hiring demand in that location is getting higher every day, especially for English teachers.

How do we address issues of attraction and retention when it comes to teaching?

Recruiting from overseas

According to a recent article from AGBI, the UAE will need up to 30,000 more teachers by 2030. Private and Public schools are looking to recruit qualified teachers from the UK and other countries to confront the shortfall in the United Arab Emirates.

Expanding your recruitment strategy beyond the UAE could be beneficial for your school in finding the best professionals. There is a growing number of teachers in the UK who are interested in working abroad, as reported by the Institute of Education at Manchester University to The Guardian in November 2023. They said that 15% of their primary cohort planned to begin careers overseas.

Mental health and wellbeing

In the UK, the House of Commons report quoted figures from a survey by TALIS, a respected EdTech business with over 30 years of experience in analysing the lives of students, into the workload of teachers. It showed full-time, lower secondary teachers in England reported working an average of 49.3 hours per week, well above the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) stated average of 41 hours a week.

Primary school teachers were working even longer hours (51.2 per week), according to the report. These figures translated into concerns that teacher’s workloads are unmanageable, with 53% of primary and 57% of lower secondary teachers saying they had too much work.

Although this figure is specific to the UK, the need for mental health and wellbeing is an industry-wide concern. Staff workload and well-being are inextricably linked. The demands put on teachers and their wellbeing need to be dealt with as a single issue.

The next step should center on mental health and well-being in the workplace. The first part of this is acknowledging there is a problem. Once that is done, employers should start to look for effective long-term solutions. Currently, schools do not have strong benefit offerings, something which has over and again been proven within the private sector to influence the attractiveness of a workplace.

This includes addressing workload pressures in conversations, running support webinars and looking at the benefits offered in the private sector. At the moment, there is a distinct lack of flexibility in the education sector. An Education Endowment Foundation report quoted in the House of Commons report says although some schools are implementing flexible working, including personal days and part-time posts, as well as allowing teachers to complete lesson planning and marking offsite, a survey of 500 state-funded schools in England found only 3% had a flexible working policy published on their website. The DfE needs to find ways to address this and the undercurrent of problems within wellbeing. If it can, then there will be a resulting improvement in retention.

The role of technology

During the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, UAE Minister of Education, Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, highlighted the significance of technological advancements for the education sector. He also introduced the UAE National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031.

Dr. Al Falasi emphasized that AI is a supporting tool, and it can complement the role of teachers. He reiterated the importance of teachers in shaping the awareness and skills of students. He also noted that technological innovation can bridge the gap and enhance teachers’ capabilities for more efficient task performance.

With technological development, teachers' workload can be reduced, making the process of producing lesson plans faster and more efficient. Artificial intelligence can help map out the required resources, plan complex lessons, and even create entire curriculums.

Conclusion

Finding and attracting the best talent for your school is one of the key success factors to ensuring that your staff and students are happy and thus can flourish. Partnering with specialist recruiters, with access to local and international talent alleviates a great amount of work when it comes to finding, screening, and recruiting staff.

With over 60 years of recruitment experience, Reed experts are here to help you address any recruitment challenges head-on and help you design and implement an effective recruitment strategy.

Visit our website or contact our office to find out more.

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