According to the survey conducted by The TEFL Academy, over 30% of UK respondents had chosen to teach English abroad as a direct result of challenges in finding employment in their field of study.
“Finding out your degree is not worth the paper it’s printed on is hugely disappointing. After such a big investment of time and money, the reality of not being able to find a job in their field is forcing graduates to seek work elsewhere,” said Rhyan O’Sullivan, managing director at The TEFL Academy.
“But you don’t need to start from scratch,” he advised graduates.
“Teaching English abroad gives you the opportunity to live in a foreign culture, earn money and travel the world. If you do it for a few months, a few years, or forever, it’s a no-brainer.”
The survey of 1,292 teachers showed that 70% of the respondents were satisfied with this decision to teach English abroad – many citing flexible working hours, less stress and overall a better work-life balance as the benefits of doing so.
Popular countries for UK TEFL teachers include Spain, China, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
“With over 400 million English language learners in China alone, the sheer scale of employment opportunities for those with a TEFL qualification is difficult to comprehend,” O’Sullivan told The PIE.
“UK graduates are finding that the employment market is saturated with graduates with non-industry specific degrees with no obvious career paths. These graduates are using TEFL as a way to get value out of their degrees.”
Earlier this year, the UK’s prime minister Rishi Sunak vowed to “crack-down” on “rip-off” degrees, although the stance was widely criticised by the international education sector.
“Too many students are being sold a university education that won’t get them a decent job at the end of it,” said Sunak in a tweet in July 2023.
According to The TEFL Academy, it is not only fresh UK graduates seeking out teaching careers abroad, with the opportunity proving popular with the country’s experienced teachers too. According to O’Sullivan, approximately 40% of The TEFL Academy’s UK graduates have taught in the UK.
“We shouldn’t be surprised that they are choosing to teach abroad instead”
“We shouldn’t be surprised that they are choosing to teach abroad instead,” said O’Sullivan.
“Teaching contracts abroad offer generous salaries coupled with lower-stress working schedules, especially in Middle Eastern countries. Many offer packages including flights and accommodation, making the high salaries even more valuable.”
TEFL-certified teachers with UK Qualified Teacher Status are able to ask for even higher salaries than other TEFL teachers, up to £40,000 a year, The PIE learned.
“With the insatiable demand for TEFL teachers worldwide we expect the numbers of UK graduates taking TEFL courses and seeking employment opportunities abroad to drastically increase,” said O’Sullivan.