TBI Recruitment: Desperately Seeking Natives

The last couple of months have surely been tumultuous at The British Institute. In the last few days alone there have been no less than 23 job ads for positions at TBI schools. A couple of these have been for the much-vaunted and frequently delayed TBI Bali (the school was originally slated to open in April 2012, so we are now 51 months late for that plan and counting.) Needing new staff for that school is completely understandable (though we do feel sorry for the applicants who wasted their time applying for jobs there the last few times TBI advertised for staff and then the plans fell through). But the vast majority of positions are not for TBI Bali (which they hope to be their first new school in 4 years); the majority of positions are at existing schools in Bandung and Jakarta. There are a pile of them, and many of them are key positions.

More soon on the umpteenth mass-exodus of staff from the hapless “British” Institute. Suffice to say at this point, if not even key staff find their job interesting or financially rewarding enough to stay with TBI, what hope is there? But we will address that issue in more depth soon. First, let us deal with a single new job position whose very existence is highly revealing about the current turmoil within TBI. Because among the list of job vacancies for TBI schools was something especially interesting; the new position of “Recruitment Manager” was mentioned. This job role would probably not strike most people as remarkable, but for someone versed in the peculiar company culture of TBI, the existence of a “Recruitment Manager” is a major change. That it even exists is proof of how far the company’s image has fallen, so let’s explore that a bit.


This is ancient history now, but there was a time before Luke Preece took over this company when they didn’t need to advertise. In 2007, when one of the writers of this blog started with the company, their salary of 14 million seemed very impressive; it was twice what many language mills in Jakarta were paying. People were constantly approaching TBI with their CVs. They had a policy of never recruiting from outside the country. If you weren’t in town and weren’t available to do a demo lesson, you were politely turned away. They didn’t need to splash out money on ads in TEFL websites because teachers sought them out. My how things have changed since the TBI Mafia hijacked the company.


In contrast to the good old days, they are now one of those schools who is constantly advertising. Tefl.com has had TBI jobs every month all year. But now a google search of “TBI Jakarta jobs” will turn up all kinds of obscure and wacky job boards where the “new TBI” is desperately seeking fresh victims. They have branched out to gap year “Adventure and Volunteer” type websites (back in 2008 they sneered at grubby backpackers as “not serious teachers”). They are also a regular fixture on the website Asia Teaching Jobs saying outrageous lies such as,  “We offer native speaker ESL teachers a superior employment package, exceptional professional career development, advancement opportunities and a first class professional working environment.
” How does visa scams and not paying tax fit with this glowing self-praise?


But the thing to note here, apart from the propensity for lies and chicanery, is that they are now advertising on multiple sites all the time every month. “Esl Employment” website. Check. “TEFL.com”. Check. “The ESL Cafe””. Check. All of these sites cost money, and this is a cheap-arse company that still doesn’t even have Smart Boards in its best schools. Not even endless customer complaints about slow computers could persuade them to update 2002 models, which their “flagship” school still sadly uses. They would only fork out all this money for ads if they were in dire straits in terms of teacher recruitment. They are absolute desperate for qualified teachers, and no amount of boasting on preening seems to be working any more.


Each time you look, they are advertising on yet more websites. Yet no new schools have opened. Teachers have finally woken up to the con and everyone has moved on to greener pastures. There’s a new awareness that their consummate boasting is all just hot air, and they simply can’t attract enough people with the right degrees. You could call it karma, or poetic justice, or the survival (or not) of the fittest, but they are clearly doing it tough these days. Which is why the decision to finally get a “recruitment officer” is so significant. It is an implicit acknowledgement that they have an image and recruitment crisis which the existing “authorities” have no idea how to fix. We will continue our discussion of this issue tomorrow, exploring the tough road ahead for this unfortunate creature, the Bullshit Institute “recruitment officer”.

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