Speaking at a conference which saw the induction of 1,800 new teachers into GEMS' UAE schools, Mr Varkey, made reference to the UAE's decision last year to freeze school fees. “We did have a year where we needed to look at our cost base. Now, because we’ve been given visibility of what the future of [school fee] regulations looks like, we are able to commit and essentially almost recover compensation for our teachers.”
Earlier this year GEMS Education also said it had been through a "right sizing" operation to improve its bottom line and realign the business to be more balanced internationally. This culminated in a CVC Capital Partners led consortium buy-in, and the acquisition of a significant minority stake in the group. In November 2018 the group also repaid its inaugural Sukuk which allowed it to look at refinancing.
According to Mr Varkey the change to the freeze in teacher salaries had begun in November - at the time of renewals and the beginning of the hiring process for the new academic year. The freeze, he said, as a result "had no effect on GEMS Education’s ability to hire staff, even amid a global teacher shortage".
Mr Varkey also noted that "a specific decision in a moment in time doesn’t impact on the work we’ve done over 60 years or what we hope to do in the future."
According to the Gulf News report, half of the 1,800 GEMS teaching inductees had previous UAE experience, and half were new, recruited from South Asia and the UK. Asked if there had been a chance in the demographics, the GEMS CEO noted, "not necessarily... but we are hiring from places we haven’t hired from before, and that’s just because the UAE still represents an interesting and exciting place for people to teach.”