The TEFLpocolypse abides.
Oh, me? I'm fine. Don't worry. My job seems to be going well enough, and I really dig Beijing.
But I narrowly dodged a bullet at my last job, and some of my colleagues there weren't so lucky.
Fucking contracting companies.
I am referring in this case to government contracting companies, not plain old recruitment companies. (The term is sometimes mis-used.) Contracting companies provide personnel for government contracts, usually military / industrial in nature. I worked for one last year in America, and I worked for one in 2013 / 2014 in the Kingdom.
Basically, they provide employees so that the government don't have to provide employees with full time jobs, permanent contracts, full security clearances, and full benefit packages. While your salary might be good or even great, it is the result of a formula designed to provide the lowest bid on the contract.
And you're fucking expendable.
My first contracting job, in which me and maybe a hundred other people provided our TEFL skills for the state-run oil company in Kingdom, was to me very unpleasant though highly paid, and I left after a year. I didn't have any particular problem with my contracting company, but I saw many others -- people being suddenly let go for little reason, paperwork being bungled, money not getting paid, people being forgotten about after being promised jobs,
Most of the hundred or so people I was hired with were let go in summer of 2015, when the low price of oil caused major repercussions in the economies in the Middle East. Most of them were older guys who had been hoping to ride that gravy train until they retired, and most of them had been constantly reassured they would be offered another contract.
My last job, in America, struck me as a half-assed, tentative deal from the very beginning. I was interviewed, then didn't hear anything, then offered a different job, then offered a part-time job, then finally offered the job on the condition that I could start in a week.
Needing to stay in America to help my Parkinson's-stricken father, I took the job, but I could tell it was no sure thing. The HR guy who met me on the first day was a cynical retired military guy who said he doubted the job would last until Christmas. (The job did, but he only lasted until March of the next year.) When my boss, the manager of the program, came to meet me, she was in tears, having just been bawled out by her superiors (government folks, I guess) over something she didn't want to discuss.
As the months passed, I was appalled by the e-mails full of corporate nonsense-speak about teams and goals and leveraging our sensibilities, which were lengthy but said very little. I was required to watch something like 5 hours of videos of training in things unrelated to my field. They even once sent out an e-mail asking if we had previously worked on any contracts that they might be able to bid on and poach.
The students at that job could not care less about learning English; there were nearly 200 when I arrived and they were being sent home in droves, for discipline violations and occasionally completely criminal acts, while none were arriving.
I expressed my doubts to my colleagues. They were a mixed bag -- mainly retired public school teachers and a lot of younger TEFL refugees bounced back from whatever jobs abroad.
Usually, I was told to stop being so negative.
The whole government contract world is extremely complex, with a lot of regulations and rules, and anybody who has ever dealt with the Kingdom will tell you that things rarely get done quickly or accurately. Everyone knew the original 2-year contract was going to end in September of 2016 -- that is, the original contract between the government and the company. (The employees were all on at-will employment agreements, which could be ended at any time.)
In the spring of this year, we found we had few students -- less than 50 remained from 200 -- and a lot of doubts about what would happen next.
Fortunately I got this job offer at a Chinese international school in May. I continued working in the USA until a week before I left, because mainly we were sitting around doing not much. (My favorite kind of job.)
About the same time, the boss told everybody that a new company would be taking over the contract in September, and sometime after that, "at least 800" new students would be arriving. She promised everyone they would have their jobs, and she even thought she could get everybody a bit more money.
Maybe she even believed it.
All week long, I've been getting panicky, horrified e-mails from people working there.
The new bosses came -- and said that since they have not yet received orders for the arrival of new students before the end of the year yet, they would only be hiring 2/3 of the staff.
One colleague was a guy who I worked with in the contracting job in the Kingdom. He is in his late 50s and had been terribly relieved when he was hired to replace me in May. Now he's at least hoping he'll be eligible for unemployment.
One guy, who had relocated from another state with his wife and new baby, got an offer -- $2000 less a year than he'd been making before.
One colleague had developed a brain tumor which was being successfully treated; she will be unemployed and out of insurance at the end of the week. She is thankful for Obamacare.
The guy from the fore-mentioned story didn't get an offer yet, either.
"Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." -- Mark 13:33.