Change in hiring trends in the K-12 education space
For many years, hiring in education (specifically K12 Schools) largely alluded to two key positions (a) The Principal of the school and (b) Teachers. Those were also the days when it was commonly perceived that teaching was a profession chosen as a default option and not out of choice. It was also perceived that teaching was a perfect option for women who continued to do their duties as daughter, wife, mother or daughter-in-law with a few hours window available to go and teach children before heading back to their homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Expectations set in recent times in the manner human talent is to be hired clearly reflects the change in hiring trends in the education space; especially with online and technology starting to play a key role in this sector.
The education sector now has multiple roles that define the running of its institutions. Of course, we have the key ones like Principal and teachers remaining unchanged…but alongside comes many other important allied roles like Academic Coordinator, Enrolment Executive, Relationship Executive and Pedagogy Auditor to name a few. Large school chains also have Content Writers and Curriculum Developers apart from industry familiar CXO positions created to bring in the management finesse to running a good school worthy of the customer (parent & child) delight.
Titles like Chief Academic/Education Officer (CAO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) , School Director, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) should not come as a surprise in this sector anymore. The ability for the leadership teams starting from a school principal upwards to manage crisis, regulatory challenges, parent expectations and security will be put to test in the coming years.
Ed-Tech has been hovering around the education sector for a while now and a firm link between Ed-Tech companies and academia has got established. The COVID-19 pandemic has fast tracked the association and suddenly we are in an environment where K12 education cannot stand independent of technology platforms that are assisting the learning process. This has led to hiring needs for those who understand Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented & Virtual Reality etc. both in technical areas as well as in its application in K12 Education ecosystem. The New National Education Policy has also emphasised on the need for greater technology intervention in the areas of assessments, teaching methodologies etc. and will certainly trigger a change in the selection criteria for Principals, school heads and academicians going forward.
To summarize, what could we potentially see as changes in the K-12 Education space ?
The selection criteria adopted for hiring academicians including teachers and school staff will undergo a change and will call for evaluation of management skills and abilities to handle high pressure situations around parent expectations for bringing out the best in the gen Z ( that’s right , no longer Gen X) children. Academicians and teachers of tomorrow will no longer be restricted to being evaluated by what they do inside the classrooms; they will also need to take active interest in overall momentum of the school including enrolments, attrition management of students etc.
Hiring Principals and school heads would now warrant checks on leadership skills, ability to manage high pressure situations, customer centricity, compliance management, school economics and cost control apart from driving academic excellence in schools.
Every educational institution be it a stand-alone school or a chain of schools will need to have competent technology experts – mind you, this is very different from having an IT executive or someone who knows how to manage the system hardware. We are talking about a tech expert who can handle complex applications that drive AR, VR & AI models within the school premises; someone who has full knowledge of how ERPs, HRIS, HRMS and other Data Analytic systems work. The bigger the chain, the greater will be the complexity in this area.
Administration in schools will no longer be a simplistic process – adherence to governance, managing efficiency and knowing how to tackle areas such as school security (both physical and cyber), transportation, procurement etc. will pose greater challenges in the schools of tomorrow.
Enrolment executives,enrolment heads or hiring of roles that deal with school admissions will be very crucial. This of course is critical when a new school comes up and certainly important even for an established school to ensure that the right word and communication is spread about the abilities of the school. Parents of today are very informed and very clear on how their child should be nurtured by a school and with the influx of multiple schools there is a wider choice that the parents have when it comes to choosing a school for their children. Let’s not also discount and forget government schools which are slowly but surely getting their act together and could pose a very economical alternative to private schools which thrived due to the consistent inefficiency of government schools.
Large school chains with presence in multiple locations will now look to have strong centralised processes and this calls for hiring of professionals who have expertise in ensuring scale through standardised mechanisms without compromising on quality. How does a school that operates in Pune replicate the one in Bangalore or in Kolkata or in Gurgaon – how can a school ecosystem bring in the perfect blend of standardisation and yet be local enough to cater to the neighbourhood culture? This is far more challenging than it looks and cannot get executed without the right team of professionals who again will need to bring in a perfect blend of EQ, IQ and now AQ or the Adversity Quotient to deal with a very sensitive sector that deals with fledgling human lives and their future.
All in all, the K12 School ecosystem is evolving in all areas be it pedagogy, infrastructure, technology integration, academic processes and operational rigour. To keep pace and match this evolution, the hiring machinery will also need to undergo a change in approach. After all, the right team in such an environment is one which knows how to deliver the right quality to nurture and evolve a child across 14 years of his or her time spent in an institution with one primary objective i.e. to prepare for the life ahead as an adult.