Thailand’s chronic shortage of teachers

This month, and last, is the primary hiring season in Thailand when schools prepare for a new year, extra TEFL teachers are planned, and plenty of movement goes on. With the stricter application of teacher licensing from the TCT, it seems that the demand for teachers this year is particularly acute.

Empty+classroomOne glance at the Facebook groups and popular job-hunting forums reveals that there is still a desperate scramble to find teachers in schools, even as the new term rapidly approaches. This indicates that there simply aren’t enough ‘correct candidates’ around – those holding a degree and being native speaking. Typically we are seeing schools loosen their requirements this late in the game and agreeing to less ideal people.

One of the chronic problems contributing to the shortage is the insistence by the TCT that you must have a degree to apply for a temporary teacher’s licence, anything less – no matter how good and experienced you are – fails the benchmark. Certainly they expect this of Thais wishing to enter the industry, with most possessing a diploma in teaching, so it’s not-surprising the authorities are enforcing this.

But the reality is, there simply aren’t enough foreigners with degrees willing to work in Thailand for the relatively low salaries, especially with the nascent demand from China. In fact there is a general shortage of teachers in Asia, so that less fussy countries will accept anyone who superficially fits the criteria. Thailand, meanwhile, has gotten stricter since the May 2014 crackdown on visas for long stay.

In the past, certainly at this time last year, many of the jobs were taken by TEFL trained people with no degree, with the school and the individual finding a quasi-legal work-around solution for visas. But since the clampdown, schools aren’t willing to risk it, or the teachers are simply chucking in their lot with Thailand and moving on to other countries.

Fast-forward a year and the problem has become obvious. Good jobs that would normally be snapped up are still vacant. And while the TCT sticks to their guns, becoming more draconian by insisting they see an original degree transcript (since they’ve likely been inundated by a raft of fake degree certificates lately). But the shortage remains and new TEFL teachers are likely to land jobs with desperate schools, even without a degree (or TEFL cert for that matter, which is a shame).

Just last month, the military prime minister used sweeping powers to summarily sack the entire board of the TCT, a state council that is widely judged as having failed to improve standards in Thailand’s underpar education sector. But this state of uncertainty usually pushes authorities to be even more conservative in flexibility to address the problem. It’s unclear how long it will be before the feedback filters back to policy implementation.

Meanwhile, if you’re new and looking for a job in Thailand, now is a good time to be looking. It’s not too late in late May to land a job with a school that’s still got unfulfilled positions. In fact, should you finish your TEFL course in June or July there might still be vacancies. Regardless of this, the informal sector – the language schools – continue hiring year round. Others look forward to the next big movement, in October when the Term 2 hiring takes place.

You can find jobs on or join the facebook group Teachers in Thailand, among others, good luck job hunting!

Note! Our partner company, MediaKids, is still looking for more than a dozen teachers for well-paid provincial jobs, provided you have a degree and fit the profile expected of the schools. We suggest you contact us asap for an interview and details of the jobs. They are offering to sponsor the cost of your TEFL training during the September break.


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