Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

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Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 28 Nov 2019, 11:22

Life outside teaching, or conversely termed, ‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire.’

After the age of 60, teaching throughout Asia is very much a closed shop. Sometimes this is due to immigration requirements, but generally because there is an unofficial age limit. I’m nearing retirement age and the near non-existent offers and workloads I was occasionally offered were well beyond my capabilities. Teaching at full blast for nine hours across various subjects and age groups is for those much younger than I and even then for most who come for the experience or adventure and not as a career.

So leaving my wife behind to run her small business and look after the house, I set off back to the UK in May to work and also replenish the piggy bank. I got a rude awakening. I’d been away for ten years and absence does not just make the heart grow fonder as it ignores the changes that take place.

I’d stepped off the plane into what resembled a crumbling, recession looming, gig economy. My plan was to update my HGV licence (US CDL), which is what I did and went through the various competency updates, assessments and medical checks. All around me were people on a minimum wage salary and a transport industry in chaos, with previous household companies going bankrupt at a rapid rate of knots. Downsizing to ridiculous levels to compete with foreign EU countries, the work was physically grueling, with often impossible deadlines to meet. Over the summer I tried several trucking jobs and finally dropped out rather than risking stress related illness or physical injury that now plague it. In the UK, statistics state that 40K+ people own truck licences, but no longer use them. I became one of them.

Back to the drawing board, I opted for a position in social care which is something that I did many years ago whilst at Uni’. That’s where I am now. Low pay, but with the hours rota system they have, a salary that is survivable on and even the chance to put a little aside.

Immigration departments everywhere are tightening up requirements in the world economic downturn and Thailand is no exception. If you’ve got a recession proof job in the west, think carefully before you give that up for a short-term taste of adventure, because when you return there might not be the opportunity to slide back into it.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 10:14

A minority niche subject perhaps, with many not being in this position, but to continue.

In an era of mass-immigration and the free movement of people, there is a process to go through on returning to the country of origin and that applies equally to Britain and especially if you’ve been away a long time. The first thing to say is that if you have money, but no driving licence, bank account or fixed address (hotels don’t count), you basically don’t exist. A passport is not enough.

The first problem is accommodation as living in hotels can become very expensive in a short period of time. Do you work? 'No.' Are you on benefits? 'No.' There follows a lot of head scratching followed by the comment, 'we don’t rent to people who aren’t in employment.' Second. Have you got an employer’s reference? 'Yes, but it’s from abroad.' Sorry, we need an English one. Have you got a bank account? 'Yes, a foreign bank, because an English bank won’t give me one because I haven’t got a settled address yet.' You need a settled address, plus alternative forms of ID to open a bank account. You get the picture and so it goes on.

I was lucky and finally found decent rented accommodation after several weeks owned by a Malaysian who understood. Conversely, getting employment was a nightmare with questions from a prepared script. Last employer, reference, P45/60 and five year employment history. Try giving foreign employment and references and the interviewer stares at it blankly not knowing what to do …

As the west continues to decline economically, coupled with the mass influx of Eastern European economic migrants, employment opportunities are declining with it. A resume of foreign professional teaching doesn’t count for much in a labour intensive minimum wage ‘gig economy.’ Perhaps this is where the online teaching gig comes into it; make lots of money chatting on your mobile phone …? It isn’t going to happen.

For those returning after an extended period of absence, it’s hard work just to slide back into what was once normality, aside from the cultural shock from the changes that have occurred. I’m lucky, I only have around 18 months till retirement and I’ll then spend the six month winters back ‘home’ with my wife in Thailand (low UK state pension permitting) and the six month summer back in the UK, which seems the popular choice among retirees now.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by Joe » 01 Dec 2019, 10:30

May be a "niche" topic but an interesting journal and thought-provoking for some. I moved the off-topic topic that suddenly sprang up in your topic :mrgreen: That couldn't have helped :mrgreen:
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by odyssey » 01 Dec 2019, 10:39

John V55 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 10:14
A minority niche subject perhaps, with many not being in this position, but to continue.

In an era of mass-immigration and the free movement of people, there is a process to go through on returning to the country of origin and that applies equally to Britain and especially if you’ve been away a long time. The first thing to say is that if you have money, but no driving licence, bank account or fixed address (hotels don’t count), you basically don’t exist. A passport is not enough.

The first problem is accommodation as living in hotels can become very expensive in a short period of time. Do you work? 'No.' Are you on benefits? 'No.' There follows a lot of head scratching followed by the comment, 'we don’t rent to people who aren’t in employment.' Second. Have you got an employer’s reference? 'Yes, but it’s from abroad.' Sorry, we need an English one. Have you got a bank account? 'Yes, a foreign bank, because an English bank won’t give me one because I haven’t got a settled address yet.' You need a settled address, plus alternative forms of ID to open a bank account. You get the picture and so it goes on.

I was lucky and finally found decent rented accommodation after several weeks owned by a Malaysian who understood. Conversely, getting employment was a nightmare with questions from a prepared script. Last employer, reference, P45/60 and five year employment history. Try giving foreign employment and references and the interviewer stares at it blankly not knowing what to do …

As the west continues to decline economically, coupled with the mass influx of Eastern European economic migrants, employment opportunities are declining with it. A resume of foreign professional teaching doesn’t count for much in a labour intensive minimum wage ‘gig economy.’ Perhaps this is where the online teaching gig comes into it; make lots of money chatting on your mobile phone …? It isn’t going to happen.

For those returning after an extended period of absence, it’s hard work just to slide back into what was once normality, aside from the cultural shock from the changes that have occurred. I’m lucky, I only have around 18 months till retirement and I’ll then spend the six month winters back ‘home’ with my wife in Thailand (low UK state pension permitting) and the six month summer back in the UK, which seems the popular choice among retirees now.
I'm intrigued. By "gig economy" do you mean slave-labour outfits like Uber, and is a lot of the UK/Western economy like that now?

Also, I understand that expats may "winter" in Thailand (and elsewhere no doubt), but what is the purpose of returning to the motherland for the summer? Is this to find (minimal) employment? Or is there something I'm missing?

And thirdly, do you really think (from your experience in Asia and Europe) that the writing is on the wall for UK/Europe and the future is with Asia?

Thanks for your reflections, and sorry to hear of your problems.

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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 14:13

Yes, you’re right to assume it started off with companies like Uber or parcel companies (pay per parcel) and deliveroo … but it developed into an economy based on employment without security for short term gain. It’s why the term ‘gig’ means short term employment. You get a job, earn money and when it ends, move on elsewhere.

There are around 40K UK agency employment companies now and increasing, to supply (when needed) labour. ‘Umbrella companies’ are also now cashing in on it. You become an employer who employs yourself, paying both employer/employee insurances and a commission to another third-party company who does your ‘books.’ ‘Gig’ essentially means grab what you can while it lasts.

In an uncertain economy employers found it much cheaper to sub-contract out to employment agencies where they could hire and lay-off according to seasonal demand. Employment agencies then found they had the same problem and farmed their workers out to umbrella companies. Every company wants the workers, but not the social and legal responsibilities that go with permanent employment.

Empires have a history of rise and fall. A century ago the advice was ‘go west young man’, but now it’s go east. The demand for English teachers in the East never varies, but your time there counts for nothing on return in a dog eat dog gig economy.

The reason the six month return is so popular is because it’s getting very expensive to stay in Thailand full time and certainly not on a low UK state pension. The immigration department demands a lump sum deposited in a Thai bank that can’t be touched (400K baht married (£10K), double for retirement visa), plus a monthly income of I think 40K baht (£1K). So people do a winter six months on a cheap visa from Lao and then return for the summer months to the UK, or Europe. Summer all year round on the cheap. :)

The initial problems I had were my own fault. I assumed that nothing had changed and wish I knew now what I thought I did back in May. Things got better after working it all out, but it was a steep learning curve and even now although in a permanent position, you’re forever looking over your shoulder, because the one who comes along and does it cheaper will get your job.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 14:15

Joe wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 10:30
May be a "niche" topic but an interesting journal and thought-provoking for some. I moved the off-topic topic that suddenly sprang up in your topic :mrgreen: That couldn't have helped :mrgreen:
I think ‘Colin’ wasn’t too happy with that (I wondered where his posts had gone), but this sitting at home with your feet up talking on a mobile phone for lots of money isn’t going to happen.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by Joe » 01 Dec 2019, 14:23

John V55 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 14:15
Joe wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 10:30
May be a "niche" topic but an interesting journal and thought-provoking for some. I moved the off-topic topic that suddenly sprang up in your topic :mrgreen: That couldn't have helped :mrgreen:
I think ‘Colin’ wasn’t too happy with that (I wondered where his posts had gone), but this sitting at home with your feet up talking on a mobile phone for lots of money isn’t going to happen.
haha Don't worry too much. I think he'd find it because the urls are number-based. But in the end he jumped your topic and that wasn't right :twisted:

And btw I thought you were very charitable in replying to his queries under such circumstances :D
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 15:42

Joe wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 14:23
John V55 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 14:15
Joe wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 10:30
May be a "niche" topic but an interesting journal and thought-provoking for some. I moved the off-topic topic that suddenly sprang up in your topic :mrgreen: That couldn't have helped :mrgreen:
I think ‘Colin’ wasn’t too happy with that (I wondered where his posts had gone), but this sitting at home with your feet up talking on a mobile phone for lots of money isn’t going to happen.
haha Don't worry too much. I think he'd find it because the urls are number-based. But in the end he jumped your topic and that wasn't right :twisted:

And btw I thought you were very charitable in replying to his queries under such circumstances :D
I’ve nothing personal against it and if Colin wants to discuss it further I’m quite happy to put my view across on another recent thread.

I initially went back into logistics and had a shock. Transport companies were going bankrupt at a rapid rate of knots. I looked at the constructing industry which was stagnating – both barometers of a recession. The big three, the UK, Germany and France all have stagnating or declining GDPs, coupled with high stock market shares as people start to clean up the profit of what’s left. All this happened previously in the 2008 collapse. The dollar is in difficulties (both China and Russia are buying up gold like there’s no tomorrow) and all major western currencies are in decline.

I’m not an economist, but I see dark clouds ahead in 2020 simply based on what I’ve seen in the last six months here. There is no pot of gold in online teaching, it’s a marketing lead for the unwary.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by Joe » 01 Dec 2019, 15:52

John V55 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 15:42
Joe wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 14:23
John V55 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 14:15

I think ‘Colin’ wasn’t too happy with that (I wondered where his posts had gone), but this sitting at home with your feet up talking on a mobile phone for lots of money isn’t going to happen.
haha Don't worry too much. I think he'd find it because the urls are number-based. But in the end he jumped your topic and that wasn't right :twisted:

And btw I thought you were very charitable in replying to his queries under such circumstances :D
I’ve nothing personal against it and if Colin wants to discuss it further I’m quite happy to put my view across on another recent thread.

I initially went back into logistics and had a shock. Transport companies were going bankrupt at a rapid rate of knots. I looked at the constructing industry which was stagnating – both barometers of a recession. The big three, the UK, Germany and France all have stagnating or declining GDPs, coupled with high stock market shares as people start to clean up the profit of what’s left. All this happened previously in the 2008 collapse. The dollar is in difficulties (both China and Russia are buying up gold like there’s no tomorrow) and all major western currencies are in decline.

I’m not an economist, but I see dark clouds ahead in 2020 simply based on what I’ve seen in the last six months here. There is no pot of gold in online teaching, it’s a marketing lead for the unwary.
Me too (seen that before?) not an economist but have to agree with you. No such niceties in China.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 16:55

Me too (seen that before?) not an economist but have to agree with you. No such niceties in China.
I honestly loved it in China, up near Mongolia on the edge of the Gobi desert. Sand storms in the summer, - 40 snow storms coming south from Siberia in the winter was OK for me … I saw poverty in the rural districts, but a huge rising middle class in the cities. I look around here in the UK and everyone I know is struggling. I don’t know about the US, but its economically bleak here.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by COLIN » 01 Dec 2019, 17:40

Come on guys. I am very open minded and well accustomed to my appreciated democracy. I was very grateful for the input regarding my query and that was enough. No need whatever to prolong after what was already said and done. Thanks once more for keeping me in mind, although I remain without a job while others are chatting about retiring pension and other vacation relaxing perspectives etc ha ha ha.

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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 19:31

COLIN wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 17:40
Come on guys. I am very open minded and well accustomed to my appreciated democracy. I was very grateful for the input regarding my query and that was enough. No need whatever to prolong after what was already said and done. Thanks once more for keeping me in mind, although I remain without a job while others are chatting about retiring pension and other vacation relaxing perspectives etc ha ha ha.
I’ve every sympathy for you Colin, honestly. Even if you’re in your 40s, stop wasting time and get yourself professional status. Qualified teacher, nurse, anything, because professions tend to weather recessions. TEFL and ‘gig’ jobs such as online teaching are a stop gap and the further you can remove yourself from the mass, the more chance you have of getting a career and not just a passing phase ‘job.’ People of my age didn’t because there were always jobs for the taking, but you’re now in a globalized world and it’s extremely competitive as you're finding out.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8487
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by COLIN » 01 Dec 2019, 20:24

Thank you John,
It so happens that I am 60 but without a piggy bank. Teaching has been my life time job and it continues to be so, even though it is passing phase and in the mass. Life has actually never smiled on me. This is the principal reason why I got this TEFL qualification to see if there is better out there in the world. Maybe you complain and squirm in your shoes without taking a look at others that are worse off. So how about swapping position with me ha ha ha.

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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 01 Dec 2019, 22:21

COLIN wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 20:24
Thank you John,
It so happens that I am 60 but without a piggy bank. Teaching has been my life time job and it continues to be so, even though it is passing phase and in the mass. Life has actually never smiled on me. This is the principal reason why I got this TEFL qualification to see if there is better out there in the world. Maybe you complain and squirm in your shoes without taking a look at others that are worse off. So how about swapping position with me ha ha ha.
Sure, I’ll swop positions with you, you’re younger than me. :) My 'piggy bank' hasn’t got much in it either as I used most of it to buy a retirement home in Thailand for my wife and I and why I’m back in the UK working. Do I sound as if I’ve been having a good time? My little UK state pension kicks in at 66 and believe me, I don’t enjoy doing 11 hour night shifts now either at near 65 years old.

Yet hold on a moment. You told me earlier you’d been teaching for 20 years and so I assumed you’d be in your early 40s. You now tell me you’ve just got a TEFL certificate. What have you been teaching with for 20 years because if you’re a qualified teacher you wouldn’t need a TEFL certificate. Or have I misunderstood something here?
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by COLIN » 02 Dec 2019, 08:59

I also have TKT which is becoming outdated. TEFL is modern for a while and will soon be down the drain too. Within the education world one always needs to keep abreast and updated.
When I first started it was chalk and blackboard which may be quite unknown to contemporaneous students. We needed to have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year teacher pedagogic exams in order to get into a classroom. But it would definitely get you where you want. Nowadays, TEFL is just a silly excuse for them to continue turning your applications down.

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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 02 Dec 2019, 10:18

COLIN wrote:
02 Dec 2019, 08:59
I also have TKT which is becoming outdated. TEFL is modern for a while and will soon be down the drain too. Within the education world one always needs to keep abreast and updated.
When I first started it was chalk and blackboard which may be quite unknown to contemporaneous students. We needed to have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year teacher pedagogic exams in order to get into a classroom. But it would definitely get you where you want. Nowadays, TEFL is just a silly excuse for them to continue turning your applications down.
They’re not turning your applications down because you have a TEFL certificate, they’re turning you down because you’re 60 years old in an industry that wants young people. Specifically, for an online Asian market where 50 is still regarded as an official retirement age. I worked for ten years in Asia with a TEFL certificate; it’s not the certificate but your age. I believe you also mentioned you’re not a native English speaker?

The problem is and just like the rest of us ‘oldies’, you’re looking for employment in an industry where age matters and you’re simply too old. What’s your plan B, because you’re going to need one.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by COLIN » 02 Dec 2019, 11:43

None whatever. No piggy bank and no job. Then I am condemned.
You named it all. Non native, over aged. If I had known, I would never have invested in this TEFL business to spend cash that I do not even have, without any returns thereafter.

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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 02 Dec 2019, 13:56

COLIN wrote:
02 Dec 2019, 11:43
None whatever. No piggy bank and no job. Then I am condemned.
You named it all. Non native, over aged. If I had known, I would never have invested in this TEFL business to spend cash that I do not even have, without any returns thereafter.
I never bothered looking into it as I thought degrees and experience came before age. I thought, surely it wouldn’t apply to me having the qualifications and experience? It did and came as a nasty shock, although not as a complete surprise as I’d been pre-warned. It wasn’t as if I was getting rejections, there was just a deafening silence. In the end, they sort of hope you’ll take the hint.

I know of two private school chains in Thailand for instance that take on anybody, but its maximum workload with hours of ‘extra activities’ and the burn out rate must be near 90% and for less than $1K a month. Survivable on, but it would be a struggle even in Thailand. It’s the same with these online teaching jobs; they’re not advertising like crazy because they can’t get teachers, they’re advertising because people join and find out they don’t have the work and they quickly drop out. Anyone promising, 'work from home, high earnings with no experience required', are simply taking advantage of the economic climate and people who are increasingly desperate.

Plan B, without any other skills, is forget the past and take anything going that you’re physically capable of. Handyman in a factory, floor sweeper, care assistant, anything and even then you’ll be competing with economic migrants who will undercut your salary. That’s the reality of it if you’re over 60 and it’s now simply a matter of keeping your head above water.
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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by odyssey » 02 Dec 2019, 14:17

Happened to see on BBC just today a report showing men waiting at some well-known (to them) location where builders would come and pick them up for a day's work (£50 to £80 I think they said - well below minimum wage anyway). They all couldn't get regular work because they had no papers, some from Romania. So I guess that lines up with what you've talking about, and the gig economy too :twisted:

The point of the story was that this is happening all over the country.

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Re: Goodbye TEFL and a return home to chaos

Unread post by John V55 » 02 Dec 2019, 14:45

odyssey wrote:
02 Dec 2019, 14:17
Happened to see on BBC just today a report showing men waiting at some well-known (to them) location where builders would come and pick them up for a day's work (£50 to £80 I think they said - well below minimum wage anyway). They all couldn't get regular work because they had no papers, some from Romania. So I guess that lines up with what you've talking about, and the gig economy too :twisted:

The point of the story was that this is happening all over the country.
Yes, we’re slowly going back to the days of no job security and paid for work done. A bit here and a bit there and go away until we need you again. In the transport industry (HGV) I first tried on returning I met more than one East European driver with a Ph.D! The amount of rules and regulations now in force in a declining economy means that many businesses can’t afford to employ people anymore and so are now returning to the days of casual labour.

I wouldn’t wish a full blown recession on any country, but I also think the UK is well overdue for one and whatever comes out of it can’t be worse than the type of casual labour economy we’re in now.
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