How is COVID-19 Going to Affect the Education Market in China?
Having been here since 2001 and lived through the SARS virus, the education market for foreigners and schools in China will be affected a lot. Many foreigners who had left the country during the Chinese New Year Festival were either stuck in their home countries or stuck in a country where they were vacationing.
We have already spoken to many of these foreigners and many aren’t returning back to China; partly because of financial issues, partly out of fear and partly because there aren’t jobs for them to go back to at this point. The restart dates keep on moving (which is not the fault of the schools or the government). Many of these foreigners have started to look for employment in other places, either in their home countries, or other countries that they can get access to. Many airlines have still either stopped or restricted flights to and from China for the foreable future, but most foreigners can’t wait that long. This is only the beginning of the problems for foreigners.
Foreigners working in China as teachers, who are stuck in China without a monthly income to pay their living expenses and rent, are planning to leave once the airlines take China off the banned list. To an extent, I can see their point, but if the ban is lifted, that will mean foreigners will be able to go back to work and possibly catch up. Most foreign teachers don’t have a social benefit package and don’t pay into unemployment programs; they rely on their savings, and let’s face it, most foreigners aren’t good at saving.
During this time, schools are taking a major hit, especially the private or international schools that rely on paid students to keep their doors open. I have heard of a few schools in the last few days that won’t be re-opening unless the government financially helps them out. However, schools aren’t the only education businesses affected. Education centres rely on paying students, especially during the winter and summer vacation period, but they too are all closed because of COVID-19.
This has hurt the entire education market for foreign and Chinese teachers, as well as the staff, school and education centre owners, along with the students, who need to have enough time to complete their second semester of school. It will affect many other parts of the market, but I am only focusing on the education industry because it directly affects us.
Our predictions for the next year are; there will be a huge shortage of teachers in a market that was already short of qualified people to be educators for English. Many schools that had foreign teachers will now be looking for replacements once the virus is gone. Like the SARS period, it will take a few years of recovery in the education industry before everything comes back to normal.