English-language training schools slammed by pandemic, causing job losses in Vancouver

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      Today marks the final day of classes at inlingua Vancouver—another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

      The downtown Vancouver campus is one of more than 300 inlingua schools worldwide. But nowadays it's become far harder to recruit students from countries like South Korea and Brazil to come to Vancouver for intensive English-language instruction.

      And that's causing layoffs of local teachers and other staff.

      According to the Education and Training Employees' Association, the shutdown of classes at inlingua Vancouver will result in 20 lost jobs. 

      One of those who is out of work is Graeme Cheadle, the ETEA's vice president.

      “I’m disappointed and saddened about the closure of inlingua Vancouver,” Cheadle said in a news release. “Private English language schools are an important part of the B.C. economy, and the impact of COVID-19 has been devastating."

      According to the industry-employer organization, Languages Canada, the English-as-an-additional-language industry employs about 1,800 people and contributes about $500 million to the province's gross domestic product.

      "Governments can and must also do more to help the workers in our sector—otherwise this may just be among the first of many schools to decide it’s easier to close than to keep employing people,” Cheadle stated.

      ETEA president Kevin Drager (in red shirt) is calling on employers to obtain a government-financed rent subsidy to keep his members employed.

      The ETEA represents more than 200 private English-as-an-additional language instructors and other postsecondary teachers. It estimates that half its members have lost their jobs in the wake of the pandemic.

      The president, Kevin Drager, wants employers to seek financial supports that are available from governments to keep his members working. That includes the rent subsidy.

      The ETEA is Local 21 of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.

      “There are only a handful of institutions with unionized employees in Canada—and we’ve been successful in achieving higher wages and benefits for workers, while still allowing a profit margin for the institution," Drager said. "Job security also gives teachers the confidence to speak out about reports from students about misbehaviour from education agents or other problems.

      "These improvements don’t just help our members, they put upward pressure on other institutions to provide these benefits as well. I worry that if enough of these institutions close, the improvements made over decades for workers and students will all be undone.”