Jalpa Trivedi explains why it’s the right time to consider a career with the Council
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is made up of six member states: Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It is a diverse grouping with a quickly expanding population that offers residents much to explore and experience. New initiatives in education, government and society mean it has the potential to become one of the most globalised parts of the Middle East. Still heavily rooted in its Arab traditions and the Islamic faith, the region nevertheless has attractions for foreign visitors and residents.
Qatar and Kuwait are safe to live in. The British Council works closely with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and others to ensure the safety of its employees. Current FCO advice warns against travel to the areas of Saudi Arabia bordering Yemen and Iraq (which have no British Council schools) and recommends that travellers to Bahrain ‘be vigilant, avoid large crowds and demonstrations’. Most visits to Oman and the UAE (with a million UK citizens visiting the Emirates every year) are ‘trouble-free’, according to current FCO advice, which mentions only inconvenience when crossing the Oman–UEA border, although this advice recently added that the UAE now faces ‘a high threat from terrorism’.
The Gulf enjoys high GDP per capita thanks to a small population coupled with oil revenues. Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE are considered among the richest countries in the world, and expats enjoy their share of this through subsidies and the absence of income tax. From a recruitment perspective, language centres in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar tend to recruit the highest number of teachers as many are attracted to the lifestyle and opportunities available there.
The British Council has been teaching English in the Gulf for more than 75 years. We are on the ground in six countries, and run ten teaching centres. Around 300 qualified teachers work at the British Council in the region and in 2014 we reached approximately 88,000 students face to face through our teaching centres. We are forecasting this number to significantly increase, if not double, by 2020.
Demand for high-quality English language provision continues to grow, with more and more young people seeking to improve their English in order to access better jobs and educational opportunities. In fiscal year 2014 we recruited approximately a hundred teachers to work for our centres in the Gulf region alone. We expect this number to increase in the years to come.
Another area in which we are hoping to recruit more is early years. Demand for English classes for pre-schoolers in the Gulf region is also increasing and we want to recruit specialist teachers with experience in early years in the near future. British Council centres already run early-years English classes in East Asia, and we aim to open something similar in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
Our teachers need a Tefl qualification (Cambridge Celta or Trinity Certificate Tesol) and at least two years’ experience teaching English to groups of students after initial training. They are recruited from across the globe with the majority coming from Europe, East Asia, North America and within the Gulf states and Mena region itself. Due to the high volume of project-based work we undertake with ministries, corporations, governments and academic institutions, we recruit a large proportion of teachers on short-term contracts (six months or less). In the Gulf region our centres in Doha (Qatar), Muscat (Oman) and Abu Dhabi (UAE) have the greatest need for short-term teachers.
As well as teachers and senior teachers, we also recruit teacher trainers, materials writers, ICT specialists and middle managers. In our larger centres there are teaching roles with additional responsibilities, for example coordinating ICT resources or courses for young learners.
By 2020 we aim be a world authority on high-quality English language teaching, learning and assessment, as well as the international distributor of choice for UK high-stakes professional and school exams. A career with the British Council is a great way to enjoy the culture, history and hospitality of this region – and to help make a positive difference to its people.
Jalpa Trivedi is regional teaching centre recruitment manager, Middle East and North Africa region for the British Council (MENA-TeacherRecruitment@ae.britishcouncil.org). The British Council’s job site is at https://jobs.britishcouncil.org
Pic courtesy: De Iraqibloggers - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34537322