Recruitment agencies profit most directly from the international movement of teachers, and still operate largely free from regulation. International recruitment agencies play an increasingly significant role in placing teachers in jobs overseas, yet their practices are almost entirely unregulated. The presence of intermediaries increases the risk of exploitation and introduces the potentially corrosive motivation of profit into international hiring practices. More than 64% of survey respondents for “Getting Teacher Migration and Mobility Right” report using an agency to secure a position abroad, and 10% of them were employed directly by their recruiter rather than by the school in which they worked. One in five teachers indicated they were unsure or definitely would not recommend the agency they used, and those reporting negative recruitment experiences were much more likely to come from low or lower middle income countries. Nearly a quarter of respondents paid fees for their jobs and a similar percentage reported taking out loans to cover their recruitment fees. 20% of respondents report fees in excess of U.S. $5,000, with a majority of those falling between U.S.$10,000 and U.S.$20,000, or levels that can lead to debt bondage.   

Unions in destination countries should consider the following 10 questions when assessing any international recruitment policy or program:

  1. Will migrants have the same rights as local teachers, most importantly the right to join your union?
  2. Will migrant and local teachers have the same wages and benefits?
  3. Will the migrants’ work eligibility be temporary or permanent?
  4. Will migrants be required to have teaching certification or experience?
  5. Will recruits be required to pay any fees to get their jobs?
  6. What parties will be involved in recruitment and hiring?
  7. Will migrant and local teachers have the same employer?
  8. Is the international recruitment addressing a legitimate need or educational objective?
  9. Will incoming teachers receive a quality orientation and professional support?
  10. Will your union have access to data to study the scope and impact of the recruitment?