Finding a Teaching Job in Hong Kong
The Education Bureau recruits NETs on behalf of local schools annually. Usually, the recruitment exercise is announced in January on the EDB website and in the press, and applications must be submitted by the end of February. In the spring, interviews are held in Hong Kong and in a number of locations around the world. Details of terms and conditions for applicants, application forms and deployment guidelines for NET teachers in primary and secondary schools can all be found on the EDB website. Some schools choose to carry out their own recruitment rather than accepting a NET from the EdB pool. Advertisements for such jobs can be found in the South China Morning Post throughout the year, but with the greatest number of vacancies being advertised in the spring.
Make sure that you have a very clear job description before you accept a job offer from a Hong Kong school. Ask about the number of classes you will have to teach, how many students there will be in each class, how many periods per week or cycle you will have to teach, whether you will teach oral classes or cover all skills with your students, whether you will teach alone or team teach, and what extra-curricular and administrative duties you will be expected to perform - especially duties outside of normal school hours. Ask about the level of English skills in the school; in a lower stream school many students are unable or unwilling to engage in English lessons led by a non- Cantonese speaker and this can pose discipline issues as well. Be aware that you may be expected to perform duties during weekends and school holidays including the summer holiday. You may wish to negotiate with your principal to ensure that these duties fall close to the beginning or end of the holiday.
Be aware that working conditions differ vastly between schools. While some schools give teachers opportunities to be creative and engage their students in stimulating work, many others are very conservative and some NETs do not find their time in Hong Kong professionally rewarding. There is little or no chance for career advancement for a NET within the local system. Try to talk with the NET teacher you are replacing so that you have a realistic picture of what to expect. If the school you are applying to is unwilling to put you in touch with your predecessor, this may be a warning signal.
Hong Kong is a very crowded city and while many people find the lifestyle here exciting, you may also feel stressed or isolated. Be prepared for culture shock. While Hong Kong promotes itself as 'Asia's World City' it is much less cosmopolitan and more segregated than, say, London or New York - or even Singapore. You may be surprised for example by how few people speak fluent English.
Pollution is a negative issue for many people who come to work in Hong Kong, and air quality has deteriorated in recent years. If you or your family members suffer from heart problems or respiratory illnesses, you should think carefully about the effect that Hong Kong's pollution may have on your health. Expat GPs and private hospitals charge high fees and although there is a public health system which is almost free, local doctors and hospitals may not provide the kind of care or facilities you might have come to expect elsewhere. Be aware that the NET scheme medical fringe benefits ,and indeed, many local medical insurance schemes may not cover you adequately in the event of a major illness or medical emergency. Also many Western countries have a cutoff point beyond which they will no longer provide public health care to their expat citizens, so check these and the relevant tax considerations carefully.