EducationIndustry VoicesAdministration

Recruit right first time

Selecting the right applicant for a school position can be an all-consuming process…

Whether it is a new teacher, receptionist, reliever, or a new school principal; it is important to ensure the applicant meets your school’s needs and suits the position well. No school wants high staff turnover and getting it right first time can prove priceless. But what does it take to give your school the strongest chance of finding the best fit?

Running your recruitment processes in-house requires a significant investment of time and energy. Unless you have a recruitment professional on your school board, it can be hard to ensure your recruitment procedure is robust, well-run, and relevant to current law. And the amount of admin involved can be huge. A recruitment agency can take the headaches out of the process.

Recruitment expert from an international education agency with two NZ offices, Prospero Teaching’s Neil Elliott sat down with us this issue to discuss some of the benefits to outsourcing school recruitment and share his perspective on how the global pandemic has impacted his industry.

“Agencies are constantly liaising with industry experts whose core business is that of recruitment and they have an ability to identify talent that schools are not aware of,” says Neil. “The cost savings, in the form of time it takes to perform these duties themselves, can be huge.”

He emphasises that the recruitment process is not a one-way street. “Recruitment consultants are great at ‘selling’ and consulting. This means they can position candidates (particularly in candidate shortage market) towards the client schools they are representing quite effectively. For those schools, this becomes an additional recruitment tool.”

Employing a new school principal can be a daunting prospect and this where a recruitment agency can be most valuable.

In what ways can an agency work with a school board to help select the strongest applicant?

“In short, a recruitment agency can assist school boards in a multitude of ways. This can be in a full advisory capacity or simply limited in scope. For example, they can advise and assist boards on:

  • Relevant legislative requirements: Children Act 2014, Employment Relations Act 2000
  • Helping to establish (in conjunction with the board) suitable selection criteria
  • Helping to advertise roles
  • Assisting with shortlisting process
  • Assisting with all applicant background and safety checks; references, registrations, police vets and general compliance.”

In what ways has 2020 impacted teaching recruitment in New Zealand?

“The obvious impact is that overseas trained teachers have been prevented from coming into the country. However, many more NZ-trained teachers who were working aboard have now returned, which is a bonus for New Zealand schools.

“Schools have had to undertake more interviews online this year, where domestic travel was restricted. And, with the increase in online teaching (largely due to COVID lockdown), an increasing focus is on attracting candidates who are tech savvy.”

New Zealand’s success in curbing COVID has also had geographical and contractual knock-on effects on recruiting members of the teaching profession.

“Spiralling house prices (particularly in the major North Island cities) have seen an increase in applicants willing to ‘move South’ or ‘move out’. And, increasingly, more relief teachers have opted to secure full-time roles, as the uncertainty of school closures (or the continued threat thereof) has restricted their earning potential. This has also increased the candidate pool available to schools. “

Looking ahead, recruiters can take many learnings into 2021 and beyond, to best position themselves to fill staffing gaps for schools.

“The events of 2020 have shown that New Zealand is heavily reliant on overseas trained teachers to help fill the ongoing teacher shortage. Many schools are still struggling to fill 2021 roles, due to not having access to this cohort.

“Also, the past year has shown us that New Zealand schools (particularly many larger secondary schools) are heavily reliant on the funding that overseas students provide. Many staff roles have been affected in these schools, as access to this market has dried up. These budget cuts have had a knock-on effect for recruitment planning in 2021.

“In markets heavily affected by COVID, such as the UK, 2021 is providing new recruitment opportunities for the education industry. For example, schools that have gone to a complete online model have been able to take advantage of teachers based in other locations (remote teaching and learning) to deliver classes. Recruitment agencies have been heavily involved in supporting schools with these appointments.

“One thing is clear: schools will have to become increasingly accustomed to undertaking more teacher interviews online.”

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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