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As many as six new schools are expected to open in the 2023-24 academic year, and more are on the horizon, spurring a sharp rise in teaching and admin positions. Image Credit: Pexels

Dubai: Major school operators in the UAE are on a recruitment drive as the country’s growing expat population fuels demand for quality education.

As many as six new schools are expected to open in the 2023-24 academic year, and more are on the horizon, spurring a sharp rise in teaching and admin positions.

School operators like GEMS Education, Taaleem, and Nord Anglia Education have completed several recruitment drives over the past year, with many more in the pipeline.

According to John Mayes, Chief People Officer at GEMS Education, the group plans and executes multiple recruitment drives throughout the year to support its schools. He said: “There is a strong focus on continually finding, hiring and retaining talent across our schools to deliver exceptional academic outcomes.” GEMS Education, one of the world’s largest private school operators, employs over 21,000 staff.

“Our growth is driven through expansion of our existing schools as well as the development of new sites supporting the education agenda in the UAE,” said Mayes.

Alongside working with the relevant governing bodies on Emiratisation and supporting investment in UAE nationals, our talent acquisition efforts also span across multiple geographies globally.

- John Mayes, Chief People Officer at GEMS Education

Meanwhile, the staff strength at Dubai Financial Markets-listed Taaleem Holdings has grown by 4.5 per cent year-on-year from the 2021-22 to 2022-23 academic years. Talat Sheerazi, the HR Director at Taaleem, said: “We anticipate higher growth for the 2023-24 academic year as we open the new British school in Jumeirah. Currently, we are at a north of 3,000 employees - both admin ancillary and academic.”

Lisa Denham, Head of Operations at The English College, said the school has recruited six additional staff members beyond the originally budgeted positions to accommodate the increasing number of students.

Local and international recruitment drives

School groups have been hiring locally and internationally to meet the growing demand for educators and administrative staff. Mayes of GEMS said most of the group’s annual recruitment is focused on academic and teaching roles, as reflected in its staff population.

“We are focused on supporting the Emiratisation agenda and the national workforce. Our employee base is also diverse, and we are privileged to attract and hire teachers and non-academic staff from across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas,” explained Mayes.


Liam Cullinan, the Executive Principal of Nord Anglia International School and the British International School in Abu Dhabi, said the school organises an annual recruitment drive in November.

“As our new school on Al Reem Island - Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi (NAS Abu Dhabi) - started to take shape last year, we received significant interest from educators and administrative staff both locally and living and working in other countries, so we’ve been able to select from a vast pool of exceptional candidates,” said Cullinan.

Talat said Taaleem had completed a bulk (98 per cent) of its recruitment objectives this year. “We have had much interest locally within the region and also from Europe, South East Asia and China,” explained Talat. “Whether admin or ancillary or teachers, we seek to hire the best staff. We hire from the UK, North America, the Middle East, and Asia.

A smaller student-teacher ratio means more jobs
The average student-teacher ratio in top schools stands at an average of 12 to 20. Moreover, rising student numbers in UAE and GCC institutions would mean schools will have to ramp up their hiring activity. According to Alpen Capital’s latest education industry report, the total number of students in the GCC is expected to reach 14.2 million by 2027.

During the forecast period, K-12 enrolments in the region are expected to grow at a CAGR of 1.5 per cent to reach 11.7 million by 2027.

“Current average class sizes are 26 children. However, this is generally in primary. For secondary, the class sizes are much smaller to ensure focus and attention is given to achieve great academic results,” said Talat. “This academic year, our class sizes will be 20 students in the foundation stage and a maximum of 24 in all other year groups,” said Cullinan. At the English College, the student-teacher ratio is 1:12.

A new crop of educators

Over and above basic technical skills, pedagogy and qualifications that are the basis of hiring a teacher, schools also focus on recruiting teachers who have made technological advances and those who are learning themselves.

Teachers being hired from overseas, who may never have worked in the UAE, also need to be emotionally intelligent with the skills set to be able to quickly adjust to and understand a new culture and rules and regulations set by the education regulatory authorities in the UAE.

- Talat Sheerazi, HR Director at Taaleem

“Research shows that the most successful schools adapt and develop around the child’s needs. And this approach needs educators who are flexible in their teaching practices and can adapt to their students’ interests and passions,” said Cullinan.

In addition to the usual qualifications, teachers hired from overseas and who have never worked in the UAE must also be emotionally intelligent. “They need to be able to quickly adjust to and understand a new culture and the rules and regulations set by the education regulatory authorities in the UAE,” said Talat.

Average pay scales
Depending on the school, teachers can be offered anything from Dh5,000 to Dh22,000. Here are some average salaries, according to Glassdoor:

Computer science teacher at an Asian curriculum school: Dh8,000

Elementary school teacher at a British curriculum school: Dh13,000

Physical education teacher at a UK curriculum school: Dh 9,000

Inclusion teacher in Dubai: Dh11,000

Key account manager: Dh20,000

A school principal in an Asian curriculum school: Dh25,000

School accountant: Dh9,500