OK, here's a very serious question to all you teachers out there. I want you to look into your crystal balls. What changes do you see as regards teaching in Thailand over the next five years?
I think it's a given that salaries won't increase that much (or you may well disagree with that statement) but what other changes might there be? (you guys know better than me because you're in the front line)
Will Filipino teachers or other ASEAN nationalities be filling more positions here? Will ASEAN make a difference at all? Will schools that find it hard to recruit teachers just simply give up? Will the short-term volunteer / gap year teacher become more popular? Let us know what you think.
As the West becomes less and less attractive to live in thanks to collapsing birth rates, low social trust, race/class riots, decay of traditional values, high cost of university education and suffocating political correctness, more people will emigrate for the charms of the East.
This overabundance of westerners (many of whom will teach) will keep salaries down, because let's face it, a 30,000 baht salary in the sunshine is preferable to most than staying in a decaying post-industrial wasteland for the dole, endless political bickering and the faux outrage of the millennial generation.
There's no strong reason to think it'll be much different than it is now. The laws and requirements will continue to change around fairly pointlessly every six months or so (so that teachers are forced to jump through hoops just to understand the current laws). The industry will continue to have a large turnover due to typical problems like lack of professionalism and senseless constantly changing requirements.
ASEAN will probably change things very little. Thailand is typically a bit xenophobic and it's doubtful there'll suddenly be a strong demand for English language skills taught by foreign teachers.
Translation software is constantly improving, but it's a long way from perfect. Its improvements will delude some learners into thinking they can translate any Thai they want into English and it'll be intelligible.
In five years time, I see huge amounts of Thai teachers retiring, thus creating even more demand for the English teachers.
Within the next five years the ASEAN will be probably be up and running for visa/work permit related issues, making it virtually a breeze to hire other ASEAN nationalities (Philipinos, Singaporeans etc). Some countries from the African continent will also be contributing towards the teacher pool.
As for the westerners, Thailand will continue to attract more and more people from the Western countries. Unfortunately, I do believe they will be mostly just here for a few semesters.
I do not foresee a big increase in the salaries paid to teachers (government schools mostly), and given the 3% annual inflation in Thailand, the cost of living is getting more and more expensive for foreigners (who have to take care of farang-specific costs as visas/work permits, visa runs, extensions of stay etc).
Thailand will probably try to implement new nationwide curriculums and standards, but within five-year's time, things will be back as they are now.
As the students have more opportunities to move and work within the ASEAN community, the demand for English teaching and tutoring will increase.
If ASEAN is ever going to be of benefit to Thailand, then they will seriously have to step up their game because they are lagging well behind other nations in terms of general capability with the English language. I imagine there will be a lot more government investment into English teaching if they want to keep up with the ASEAN integration.
It will be very interesting to see what Thailand's approach to the situation will be.
We all know that teacher salaries have risen very little over the last 15-20 years. Why should the next five years be any different?
I've been at the same government school for three years now and every single year it gets tougher for the recruitment department to find and hire teachers. There's a sort of 'fuzzy logic' going on. The school thinks that teachers should just be grateful for the opportunity to work in this amazing country but they don't really appreciate how much money a foreigner needs to earn in order to survive here. So the result is fewer and fewer teachers applying for vacancies.
Five years ago, I worked in a staff room with about twenty teaching colleagues. I would say that 80% of them were Westerners here for the long haul and looking to stay in Thailand for as many years as possible. Now I work in a staff room with a dozen teachers, most of who are here for just one semester. I think we're certainly seeing the end of the teacher who wants to work in Thailand and make the country their home.
I think that EFL will actually be a growth industry within the region (and in Thailand) BUT...
Professional teachers (trained as teachers) will become more the norm than the exception.
ASEAN nationals (real teachers who speak English at a competent level) will take a larger slice of the lower end job market and the writing is already on the wall that overpriced, under qualified, long-nosed-white-faces will, more and more, be on the way out.
ASEAN "English teachers" whose English skills are sub par ie: lower than TOEIC-700+/IELTS 6.5+ will also be hard pressed to find work or stay employed as will those with unrelated degrees and no professional teacher training.
As to the issues with the TCT and waivers ... I see those becoming more entrenched and more fluid (constantly moving goal posts for a waiver). If you plan to stay here as a teacher then get qualified (able to get licensed) or look at China, Cambodia or Laos to continue your TEFL run abroad.
There has been and will continue to be a place for qualified teachers - those folks with education related qualifications & certifications (EFL and subject related) and their pay will continue to stay at the top of the heap. Once you get your license, there has never (until you age out) been an issue with non-b visas, waivers (no longer needed), work permits (you are qualified to work) and there is no need to even look at those 30k jobs.
If you look at the job posting boards, forums, and social media there is a steady stream of job postings in the 35-50k range for BA holders and no shortage of jobs over 60k (plus benefits) for anyone with some teaching qualifications beyond a BA and a white face.
For the gap year teachers there will always be the 30k option.
EFL is still a growth industry.
I see a new generation of Thai teachers coming into Thai schools to lessen the need for foreign teachers - but there will still be plenty of work for foreign teachers, especially those with qualifications & experience.
English language learning is on the increase the world over. Furthermore there will be a lot more international schools in Thailand & SE Asia.
ISC predict - "by 2024, Asia is forecast to have well over 7,000 international schools and over 5.5 million students," - there will be a huge shortage of qualified teachers in this part of the world. If you have the qualifications, the future's looking bright.