Why Don’t Schools Post Age Restrictions?

Bangkok Recruiting Fair, 2019 – Preliminary Interviews: Pulling up a seat across from the school Director, I went into my spiel. He looked to be in his mid-sixties, out of shape and a bit tired from a morning of screening teaching candidates. My one goal was to get myself invited to a more formal interview later in the day.

We exchanged a short volley about my qualifications and why I had chosen his school. I felt super encouraged when, finally, he asked to see my curriculum vitae. I held my breath. “I had no idea you’re so…old. The cut-off age for a work Visa at my school is 56. Sorry, but I can’t hire you.”

I’m 56 years young! Fit, trim, and full of energy. The Director, it turns out, is actually only 49. I’ve been told some countries fear that at my “advanced age” I may suddenly become terminally ill and a long- term burden on their healthcare system. If I were them, I’d be more worried about the Director’s physical condition than I would with someone’s actual age. I don’t get it!

Why do the majority of schools and recruiting agencies/Fairs fail to include age restrictions with their job postings? Wouldn’t this save schools and educators extensive time and money? Here at ISR we’ve heard theories on this topic, some of which don’t speak favorably of recruiters.

ISR Asks: What’s your take on this topic? Do you have direct experience with ageism at recruiting Fairs and/or with recruiting in general? Why are age requirements kept under wraps until the very last minute? Please Share!

Scroll to participate in this Discussion Board

Also see: ISR’s Work Visa vs. Age by Country

92 Responses to Why Don’t Schools Post Age Restrictions?

  1. mwalimu says:

    Even in a country like UK where age discrimination is illegal ( and I am a UK citizen ) you still run into the ” experience = expense ” problem.

    How many of you who are complaining of these problems are contributing the the info on the ISR database ? ( I have. )

    The only hope for us over 60s is that we pool the info that we have and spread the news about the options ( like internet tutoring ).

    Like

  2. A-Z says:

    The reason is simple: money.
    Over 60 and health insurance premiums climb. Over 65 and they go through the roof.
    “Older” means more years of experience, so often entering at a higher pay scale.
    National retirement ages usually only apply to host nationals in government service – not private enterprise – which 99% of ‘international’ schools are. The national age restrictions are frequently used by schools as a convenient excuse.
    No westerner liberal/democratic admin is going to make the mistake of overtly saying you’re too old , as that would be a cue for legal action based on discrimination in most developed countries.
    Younger usually means cheaper and more malleable.

    Like

  3. Ian Whiteman says:

    This has, is, and, unfortunately, will continue to annoy people who are applying for positions. I asked Search Ass. if they had a data base for this topic. They responded with a reasonable amount of info, some of which was contradictory. This was not their fault. It was gathered from what schools had provided in their statements and should not reflect badly on Search Ass. They at least could supply some info. No other groups responded to my request.
    Some governments have set ages and that I understand. Some schools have age limits that allow them to employ someone for a reasonable length of time leading up to the age for visas/health cover. I also understand that, having been a Principal.
    What I don’t get, is not hiring the best person for a position due to a self imposed age barrier. Schools in the same country, region or city vary widely in respect to age limits. This defeats the purpose of trying to get the best candidates to teach students and ensure parents get the best value for the fees they pay.
    Out of common decency at least, let candidates know the age barriers so it saves them from wasting time creating a C/V and documentation for a position they have no chance of obtaining. It would also save Administrators having to receive, read and cull any application based on age.
    It would be even better if an explanation of the age limit could be given. That, unfortunately, might make some administrators jittery because they’d have to be honest with their reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JBK says:

      Do you suppose SA, or other search organizations would be as blase about the whole blatant school/government sponsored age discrimination game if they started not accepting teachers on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity? I can just see them throwing up their hands and saying, “Such a shame but there is nothing we can do about school XYZ not hiring women or blacks…but we’ll keep right on taking their money!”

      Like

  4. Trevor Ryan says:

    I’ve asked this question MANY times. The schools I have asked still do not include age requirements. Many of these are restrictions of the government so they do not reflect on the school being ageist. Deliberately not putting this important info is pure laziness is all I can see.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Paula Marsh says:

    Yes…! Qatar apparently changed the age limit from 60 to 50 this past summer, although I got a job there in October no problem. I think some schools have more clout, although it is now across the board in Qatar. Not many agencies seem to be aware of this and don’t tell their candidates. I wonder what they will do about the Qatar Airways pilots who also had a 60 years age limit….

    Like

    • SSS says:

      As a 71 years young, I am on my second job in Sudan. True that Khartoum is an unpleasant location and dangerous right now being in a state of emergency but I don’t need a great social life.There’s plenty of jobs going here right now if you like to live dangerously.

      Liked by 1 person

      • B says:

        Hello, SSS- I interviewed and got a job in Khartoum about 3 years ago, but after all the fuss about safety turned it down (I was about 55 at the time). I would work there now. As you stated, I do not need social situations, bars and partying, so a safe school and apartment are fine with me. How did you find your position??? And would you mind sharing the name of the school?Thanks!

        Like

      • mbkirova says:

        I worked in Iraqi Kurdistan, with Mosul right over the border under heavy attack. Fortunately the women I shared with had family background in the military and could even name a lot of the war machines flying overhead. But Erbil itself was not dangerous. It was only the constant electric cuts that caused a problem for us! And btw, many new schools opening up there now, both secondary and universities. I can recommend it if you are brave and interested in the political situation in that part of the world.

        Like

        • B says:

          mbkirova- I also worked in Kurdistan (Erbil), about 2 1/2 years ago and would have stayed, except my school moved me from grade 1 (I took the job because I had taught secondary English for over 20 years, but have a MA in primary and wanted to go back), to grade 7&8 BOYS (the BOYS!!!). I taught “The Boys” (grades 8&9), in Qatar for over 2 years and they just did me in. Everyone should have a nice grade 1 class after 2 years of adolescent boys!!! If I could get an acceptable salary (and a primary class), I would certainly teach in Erbil again. Had a good year there. Even with all the military checkpoints!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very true. In Pakistan the PE teachers is almost 78 and he gets a work permit every year. I think in Pakistan rules only apply to the locals who are retired when they turn a certain age. As you say if they want you they will swing it anywhere,

    Like

  7. tamsin says:

    There are “old” 60 somethings and then there are “young” 60s and in my experience, if a school really wants you they can get around the age barrier. One director I know of in Thailand is 73. A warning to all those younger teachers who treat us more mature colleagues disrespectfully…. you too will hit the age discrimination barrier one day!

    Like

  8. Anonymous says:

    Vietnam is similar to Thailand too

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    By Thai law teaching women cannot be employed after the age of 55 and men after 60. Administrators can be.
    I presume that it cannot be publicised because it is discriminatory to do so. I believe that Search Associates see it as discriminatory. That however does not change the law

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      If Thai law prohibited the hiring of women or people of color do you suppose SA would say, “Oh well…it’s the law!”?

      Like

    • kathleen ward says:

      I am 67 and was just hired Jan 7, 2019 to work in an international school in Thailand. I picked up my work visa today. A couple years ago, from 2014-2017, I taught at an international university in Bangkok and also had a work visa. Why do people post things when they don’t know the facts, like the anonymous post above?? It seems to be common practice these days just to say whatever you feel like with nothing to back it up.

      Like

      • Kay Nickens Boone says:

        That’s interesting. I have looked at jobs in Thailand advertised on TIE and they have all posted 60 as the age cut-off. I would like to try Thailand, but didn’t because I had read age 60 was it. hmmm..

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anon says:

          The reality is that Thailand is a popular posting and schools can choose from a wide range of candidates. Us mature teachers are competing against a younger crowd. This is why people end up in places like Egypt, Bangladesh et. al.

          Liked by 1 person

          • mbkirova says:

            Anon, you got that straight. They can hire young and cheap, but what they are getting will largely be partiers, which most of us will have experienced and been frustrated trying to work around.

            Like

      • mbkirova says:

        Kathleen, what you said is rather rude. I’d guess, if you worked in an international university there, you have a PhD, which would make your situation rather different to the rest of us. As a general rule Thailand is *not* interested in older candidates, for whatever reason. I know this from banging my head against the wall until I gave up.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry to have triggered such a pejorative response from you Ms. Ward. Might I remind you that “your facts” are not necessarily the truth for others (far from it according to most posters here!). Not sure why you jumped to such a self satisfied conclusion that I “don’t know the facts”. I have taught internationally for over a decade after 30 years in the US and I am currently teaching in Cambodia. I simply asked a question which (it seems) you found so uncomfortable that you chose to attack rather than answer. Would schools or recruitment agencies which profess to support progressive educational values take the same blithe attitude to institutionalized racism or sexism as they repeatedly do to ageism? The answer is clearly no. Sorry if that fact makes you uncomfortable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kapunka Jinks says:

        I work in an international school in Thailand and our teachers national or international are forced to retire at 60. Our HR is very clear that this is a national and legal requirement. So your post is intriguing. Maybe it is a requirement that Thai teachers retire and they are interpreting it literally and they could get a work permit for international teachers over 60. definitely intriguing, maybe they don’t want to be seen to be benefiting Falang teachers over Thai? 🙂

        Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    By Thai law teaching women cannot be employed after the age of 55 and men after 60. Administrators can be.
    I presume that it cannot be publicised because it is discriminatory to do so. I believe that Search Associates see it as discriminatory. That however does not change the law

    Like

  11. mbkirova says:

    I think I’ll add here one thing I *am* guilty of, as an over-65. The better paying schools often expect a high level of knowledge in edu-tech, which young people will have learned in their courses these days but older folks may be slower at, or in my case need training, which almost no one is willing to do these days. Even for bit work in tutoring in a US city, it’s often the first thing they ask. Personally I am not sure a Mac School, where every child has an i-pad, is the way to go, but I just thought of this later as a *possible* reason for wanting younger. But of course, all they have to do is ask whether you are familiar with X or Y software.

    Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have also had this kind of experience. I have worked in China, Saudi Arabia and other countries but can no longer work there because of my age. I am actually a better teacher now, in good health and in full possession of my mental capacities. Part of the reason for this discrimination is fear of health problems, but for Americans with Medicare it is not a problem since we would just go back to the U.S. if a serious problem occurred. I think the real reason is they want young people who they think can relate better to young students. I am soon to be 89 years old. Now i am working at the university of El Salvador on a Fulbright award. I think the university will hire me to continue working there There are opportunities in some countries where age is not an issue and working as a volunteer is also possible because some universities do not have the money to hire outside teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jon Cristofer Miller says:

      I appreciate the candor of all of you who have posted here. I was surprised – and happy – to hear that many of you have found work in Central and South America… while the pattern of age discrimination in Asia contradicts the traditional “respect” for older people. That said, the law notwithstanding, age discrimination in education is still alive and well in the US, regardless of health, commitment, and credentials.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Annick says:

    Do others find it disappointing that schools which profess ideals of lifelong learning and inclusiveness still regularly discriminate in hiring due to age?
    If there are true visa restrictions stipulated by the governement in the school’s locale, that is one thing; but often school admin. will misrepresent an age requirement as a government policy when it’s not, it’s a cost saving measure on their own part.
    I have taught in two countries where other schools advertised – and yes, through Search and ISS – age cutoffs as due to local government restrictions in spite of the fact that I – and others – were over that age and working at another international school in the same city, which had no such government restrictions.
    The hypocrisy of this is frustrating, and the fact that the recruiting agencies perpetrate the hypocrisy even more so.
    As for the excuse of insurance, it would be interesting to see the data on that. Anecdotally, as a teaching couple who used to take ALL their sick days yearly to care for children when we were younger and made frequent trips to doctors for ear infections, strep throat, etc., once that stage passed, it has been typical for us to not take a single sick day nor to use a doctor for anything other than physicals and standard tests for years. The school saves money on substitute teachers, if nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. KLP says:

    I’m turning 56 and have been told that age restrictions are either insurance related or visa related. Personally, I believe it’s all about the money. When schools pay for insurance, they get cheaper rates for a younger staff — as we all know. Furthermore, the “you’re too old” excuse also translates as “we don’t want to pay for your years of experience.” Being an educator is one occupation in which you get penalized for being experienced. Can you think of another?

    Liked by 1 person

    • JOHN says:

      Yes, age discrimination is rampant, especially in Asia. The international school community is complicit in this likely because their boards think they will cut health insurance costs although, like other posters, I am FAR more fit and vigorous than many or most of the staff at my past schools. These schools promise an enlightened, progressive, Western style education. As such they would NEVER allow foreign education departments to tell them they could not hire staff based on race, ethnicity or gender. And yet when it comes to age discrimination the HR people throw up their hands and say, “Sorry, nothing we can do…it’s government policy”. A hypocritical cope out in the name of preceived fiscal savings.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Walmsley says:

      Exactly. On the one hand a school will tell you are too old, and on the other they will hire you on a much lower package as a substitute. Stunning hypocrisy.

      Like

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thank you ISR for initiating this thread. It is so positive to see ‘us’, a community of experienced, worldly, passionate, young at heart-body-mind (I could go on) International Educators supporting each other as they move into this next phase of career and life. I too have come across that invisible, or at least silent barrier, of ageism. It is trying on the self esteem, but makes us stronger for carrying on. Given the number of contributions to this thread in such a short time frame, it is clear we, as a community within the International School sector, are a strength, that we have much to offer and are not alone.
    Keep going, keep sharing and good luck. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Alan Walmsley says:

    I am 72 and towards the end of last year I signed a further 2 year contract at my school in Pakistan. When I turned 60 I was shown the door by a leading international school in Thailand who proudly boast their support for lifelong learning in their mission statement. In fact they will offer you further employment as a substitute teacher on a lower salary. It’s just that somehow you are regarded as too old for full time work. Luckily I found employment at another school in Thailand which didn’t seem to have an age restriction. However, after turning 66 I was again refused further work. The following year the school advertised a retirement age of 55. I fully appreciate the fact that I am working in an environment where my experience and my teaching efforts are recognised and rewarded. I still have a passion for teaching grade 3 students and my heath is good.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. mbkirova says:

    I’m really glad to see this thread as I’m currently on a job hunt and ran into age walls in plenty of places- enough that I’d been about to despair. But after a lot of research I’ve found countries that actually don’t give a toss, such as Central Asia and Mexico/Latin America. They may not be the best paid jobs, but if you’re over 65 and have a pension of any kind you can manage. I’d also forget about job fairs. I’m currently interviewing for a *very* good school in Mexico City.

    Like

    • mbkirova says:

      I’ll also add that I apply blind to many schools and simply ask in advance if they can consider me.

      Like

      • B says:

        I hear you, mbkirova! Of the 4 different schools I have worked in, only 1 was acquired through a recruiter- and that was back 8 years when I first started overseas (ADEC in UAE). The 3 others have been through either GUARDIAN (1), or my doing a little homework and checking school websites. In this way you can research the school before you get emotionally involved and also before they research you.

        Liked by 1 person

    • B says:

      I would LOVE to work in Mexico, but salaries are not manageable. Could you share how you researched schools and found a suitable one? Is Mexico City where I should start???

      Like

      • mbkirova says:

        There are recruitment agencies that only charge the school, not the teacher. However I’m not going to give this info away until I have my own post secured 😉

        Like

        • B says:

          That’s why I didn’t ask the name of the school- Don’t blame you. Promises mean nothing and even when everything is on paper you can turn up to your new school and have a completely different position (Has happened to me twice. And once I turned up for my second year and had gone from Homeroom Teacher Grade 1 to BOYS English grades 7 & 8. I quit- Almost as bad as starting my second year last September and being told I had 5 “Dance” classes. Seriously-

          Liked by 1 person

          • mbkirova says:

            I have used a recruitment agency to find this job, and am told I have an interview soon. But it is also clear they are looking at others, not just me. Still, if you look up local recruitment agencies (in any country) you might have a better shot as they would know about age issues- you just tell them in advance. Saves time. Good luck!

            Like

  18. Anonymous says:

    So what are the best Countries to work in past age 55?

    Like

    • mbkirova says:

      This is fairly easy to research- first in the link thru ISR, and there are other such lists. Central Asia/Caucasus, Latin America/ Mexico are a few. I’m older than you, and have hit the same wall, but have taught in the first set and currently interviewing for the second. May not be the top paying regions, but for *me* you are a whipper-snapper! Good luck, but basically you can leave most of Asia out.

      Like

    • Anon says:

      Sudan. I’m on my second job here at the age of 70 something.Who needs alcohol and a social life anyway. As it is politically very unstable and the living conditions rough, there are plenty of jobs going.

      Like

  19. Kay Nickens Boone says:

    Hey guys,
    If you did secure a job, please post the country for us! Thank you! 🙂

    Like

  20. Coll says:

    I am just coming across this now! Reaching 55 this year and in the process of looking for a new position – I am continually being knocked back –
    When asking for feedback pretty much all of them say I came across really well and looked to be a good fit for the school but…..you didn’t fit into the final piece of the jigsaw! I am a fairly fit 54 yo soon to be 54 who exercises everyday, am a qualified Internatinal Award leader/supervisor/assessor – I regularly walk great distances and eat welll – oh and I’m a woman – I think this may also play its part – but neither of these two things are explicitly said to me.

    Like

  21. Expat in Saudi says:

    If you were at the Search Bangkok Fair, you should have realized that Search allows candidates to search schools in their data base for age restrictions, which are listed for most schools. However, there are a couple where it might not be. Always check!

    Like

  22. catherine osullivan says:

    Wow. I had no idea this was even a thing until recently when a school said no to us as a couple because my partner is over 50. No consideration given to the fact he is super fit and can run rings around people much younger. At least now we know so can keep an eye out for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Sue says:

    I have learnt to tell my age first and then ther7e is no tine wasting.
    If you are in the sistem before a certain age its fine but more and more schools are not employing and getting rid of older peope. It’s a shame asthis is where the experience lies. Money counts and younger people are willing to work for less 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    • B says:

      Age is a reality EVERYWHERE!!! Try getting a teaching position in the USA over 50- ESPECIALLY if you have 20+ years experience and a MA or PHD that the districts will have to pay on a higher pay scale for. Unfortunately experience after just a few years is way over rated in the teaching profession and is often NOT a plus in getting hired, as in at least the US, you cost more.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Anonymous says:

    I worked at a fantastic school in Dubai until I was 67 and was offered another contract extension. If the school wants you a thing is possible.

    Like

  25. Jon Cristofer Miller says:

    In 2008, some parts of China cared about the official “60 for men; 55 for women” retirement age, and others do not. The schools could exert pressure to waive the issue. I had just turned 70, and landed a great job teaching in a Nanjing high school, on a two-year contract with a possibility of a signing bonus for extending. A year later, a new Director simultaneously began purging older teachers, claiming it was “too hard” to get visas and bringing in low-cost inexperienced replacements. I survived for two more years at high schools and universities by using a multiple-entry visa, and then – every three months – walking out of China into Hong Kong and back again, to satisfy government requirements. In 2012, back for Summer leave, I had two offers from Chinese schools. Unfortunately, the Foreign Expert Bureau was cracking down on “old” people, regardless of experience, education, credentials, and job offers. I never went back. China still has lots of jobs for Americans with no degrees, no experience, and no credentials… if they are young. Of course, between the ageing of the Chinese population and the one-child policy, China will soon have to relax the mandatory retirement rules. Just when, I don’t know. Jon Cristofer Miller

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Steven says:

    We definitely have had age issues in the past. At one school I was told I would have to leave when I was 64, even though I wouldn’t turn 65 until one week before the end of my school year. We were offered positions in 2 schools but they had to take them back when they looked closer at our CVs and at their own hiring rules. I’m glad to hear Search is posting age restrictions because a few years back we asked them to tell Aramco to actually post that You had to leave their school at 60. We both love teaching overseas and want to continue, so hope that there will always be jobs somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Kay Nickens Boone says:

    I am 58. received a renewal only one year contract in China.Guess I am out of time! lol

    Like

  28. Kay Nickens Boone says:

    TIE online lists age cutoffs too.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Anonymous says:

    My experience is such: I only looked at schools that posted there were no age restrictions. Even with no age restrictions posted for the school, I ran into age restrictions for the country. Right now I am 63 and after searching for the right fit for over a year I have given up.

    Like

  30. Trav45 says:

    A) So that guy, if he’s real, is a total jerk.

    B) If you go through Search, they DO post age restrictions. In fact, they even have a list. https://www.searchassociates.com/Job-Fairs/FairPage.aspx?i=bX*5%60%23O3B29%3EEgT~%24×3

    As to China, the visa points thing the above poster mentioned can be found here, but it only means they’ll consider the application, not that you’ll get the visa. And some schools will fight for you and some won’t. I’m at one of the top-tier Beijing schools that will. The other big top-tier school here kicks their staff out at 60. ( you can Google to find a points calculator to determine if you make it.)

    Like

  31. Stephen Hill says:

    I completely agree.

    The agencies are also unaware of the age restrictions.

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  32. B says:

    I am 58 and just signed a contract with a very well paying, reputable school in China… If you can get into China by 59, the school CAN request a working age extension from the government once you hit 60. It is the same in Egypt as well as numerous other countries… However once you hit around that 55 year old mark, opportunities DO become much more scarce. At 57 I signed a contract with a smallish, unprofessionally run school in Kazakhstan (with a Principal and a very young principal in waiting who together had less than 10 years teaching experience and NO administrative experience between them). Not only was the work experience a horror, but the quality of living in the area (Aktau- a small area without the city luxuries of Astana and Almaty), was dismal at best. Yes- the school had an older staff- most hired after 60.. And there WAS a reason for this (and it was not respect for our years of experience). Limited opportunities for older teachers meant many would put up with a lot of sh!t.
    My advice… Save-Save-Save and be ready to retire by 60. I am collecting my New York teacher’s pension (since 55), which goes straight to savings and plan on putting in 1 (maybe 2), more years in China… Then DONE!!! But it did take some financial planning as in the US the very earliest I can start collecting SS is 62.

    Like

  33. ProTeacherLivingTheLife says:

    I also use Search Associates, and they do put restrictions on their website. Things like age, relationship status, etc. For example, in Oman, you can bring a husband with you if he’s not working. Basically Omani law prevents the wife from being the sole breadwinner. So all of that is specified so that you don’t waste your time.

    Like

  34. Anonymous says:

    I went to the Search Fair in Singapore. The Search website information was very clear on what the teaching age is. I have just turned 60. I avoided most schools in China. A couple I was really interested in I did speak to them but we had a good conversation and they were really honest. I have secured a job in a country where my age us not an issue and they are really keen on my experience because that is what they need in this particular recruiting period. It is what it is. If the dont specify an age- dont bother. If they do and you are over their limit dont bother with them. It may be the school, it may be their national government. It is just not worth the hassle. Put your energy where it will get a result.

    Liked by 2 people

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