TEFL vs care work

Before I somehow fell into TEFL and spent 18 years (and counting) doing it, I somehow fell into care work and spent 3 or 4 years doing that – and in fact the plan was go back and get into social work once a year or two of TEFL was out of the way. The parallels between the two are numerous:

  • They seem like easy jobs based on things that you do every day anyway (looking after basic human needs/ speaking your own language), but somehow many people do them very badly.
  • There is more and more appreciation of the importance of the profession and demand for people to do the job, but somehow the pay and conditions continue going down
  • There’s a related job which is basically the same thing but has a much more respected qualification and is much more respected as a job and well rewarded (social workers for care workers and “proper” teachers for TEFLers)
  • As badly paid as you are, many people dream of replacing you with Filipinos
  • Many people who do the job should actually be on the other side of the transaction (TEFLers who should be learning English rather than teaching it and care workers who should be in some kind of therapy, on some kind of drugs or in some kind of sheltered housing themselves)
  • Most people have no relevant qualifications
  • It’s true that personal qualities are more important than qualifications and maybe even training, but that has been used as an excuse to do away with those very useful things and drive standards further down
  • The only people who feel no pressure doing it and so can really feel rewarded by what can be a rewarding job are those who are supported by someone else’s wages
  • Unsociable hours
  • No job security
  • Working several places in one day
  • Increasing levels of subcontracting drives wages and quality even further down
  • The clients may well be better off finding their own care worker/ TEFL teacher, but the chances of ending up with an axe murderer or being left with no one at short notice mean few will take the risk
  • Scummy (care home/ school) owners
  • Incompetent managers with no actual management training
  • Lots of Guardian readers
  • The smallest organisations (individual care homes and small schools) include the best and worst of all
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