“Online education goes mainstream due to COVID-19, providing brand-new remote job opportunity for Pilipino,” Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on May 20, with his department estimating around 4 to 5 million Filipinos to be unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, following the month-long nationwide lockdown.
Though lockdowns have been effectively flattening the infection curve, the trade-off is painful. As tourism, trade, and consumption drastically drop during the lockdowns, Philippine labour market may face an even more gloomy future.
Though the onsite job opportunities keep shrinking in the following months, another chance is opening for the Filipinos who have to work from home.
Since February, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced K-12 school districts to close, and sent more than 290 million children and youths home, data from UNESCO showed. Learning online has then become the only choice. This increase in demand has boosted online education platforms like 51Talk in China.
51Talk is China’s largest online English education company, and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (COE) in 2016. It brings together students and teachers for live, online English lessons. By providing students across China with access to the world’s best quality education, 51Talk is achieving its mission of helping China speak with the world.
According to 51Talk, there is a shortage of 500,000 foreign English-language teachers in China. The company said it now has 10 million registered students, and more than 20,000 partner teachers in the Philippines.
The founder and CEO of 51Talk, Jack Huang, see the outbreak as a turning point in the online education industry.
“With the exploding demand for English-speaking teachers in China, there is probably never been a better time than right now to teach English online,” Huang said, adding that they still need 30,000 more teachers by 2020.
Amid the pandemic, online teacher turned out to be one of the least affected job. Many online teachers in the Philippines typically work from home, which insulated them from the home quarantine measures that have devastated other businesses.
At the same time, being an online teacher can be very rewarding. In 2019, the average monthly salary in the Philippines was about 50.6 thousand Philippine pesos, meanwhile a 51Talk online teacher earns more than 60,000 pesos per month.
“Due to the increasing number of students in 51Talk, the home-based job is very profitable and meaningful,” said Selphie, a five-year online teacher with 51Talk. “Not only do we get to teach regularly but we also get to learn more about Chinese culture from students of all ages. It has always been fun exchanging ideas with them and knowing that you’re helping them talk to the world more confidently, one class at a time.”
Recently, a post of 51Talk has generated a great deal of attention on social media. In the post, the founder and CEO of 51Talk Jack Huang called the Filipinos to join 51Talk as online teachers, to together combat the coronavirus job losses. “If the pandemic took your job, then 51Talk can offer you a new one,” said Huang through the video, adding that “There is probably never been a better time than right now to teach English online.”
Renowned actress Dimples Romana also stands with 51Talk. She reposted the video on May 26 and stated to her over 200,000 fans that “earning from home is one of the best ways to adapt to the new normal”. “I know that livelihood of some of our Kababayans out there is affected by the current health crisis,” she said, “51Talk is a good opportunity for anyone amidst the pandemic.”
“The pandemic has put thousands of jobs at risk, and this has been particularly hard for the Philippines’ single mothers,” Sophia, a single mother of two commented. “51Talk brings light to our lives. As English is my mother tongue, the only thing I need to be an online English teacher is a reliable internet connection and a laptop.”
As Huang see it, Filipino have natural advantages to be online English teacher.
“The Philippines is one of the best English-speaking countries in Asia. Filipino teachers have standard American pronunciation. More than 1 million Filipinos work at call centres in the United States,” said Jack Huang. “All you need is a stable internet connection, a laptop, a built-in or external webcam, a headset, and a quiet space to teach.”
Looking for an ideal job amid outbreak? Consider being an online teacher with 51Talk.