Every year since 2010 we take an annual census of the foreign expat teachers working in China and we do this with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education and SAFEA who also study these statistics for various reason. For us it is a way to help keep a pulse on the teaching industry in China for expats.
The results of our 2013 census cam back last month and officially there were 7,139 less teachers who "chose" not to come to teach in China this year than in 2012. But there were 2,363 teacher's who were not allowed to come to China this year (or whose visas simply were not renewed) due to the new criminal background check requirement implemented by the PSB this year to screen out pedophiles and convicted felons. However, we can only guess as to why 8% of China's teaching community opted to either avoid China or to leave the teaching profession, even though the expats may have remained in China. Here is what we concluded based on our 4 years experience and current trends in the China foreign teaching industry.
1) Since expat foreign teachers are the lowest paid foreigner in China, many have found new professions in China that pay almost double the wages and in many cases, far more than double. The two links below show what you can REALLY expect to earn as a teacher in China - not waht all the agents and recruiters want prospective clients to believe http://www.ChinaScamBusters.com and http://www.foreignteacherpay.com/about/http://www.foreignteacherpay.com/about/
2) Many teachers report that they are angry and tired of continuously being exploited for unpaid overtime, or cheated by agents and even their own employers as this link explains http://open.salon.com/blog/china_business_central/2012/12/14/china_foreign_teachers_exploited_and_abused_by_scams as well as this one: http://open.salon.com/blog/china_business_central/2012/12/14/china_foreign_teachers_exploited_and_abused_by_scams
3) About 300 teachers get blacklisted by the schools every year for punctuality issues, drinking, absenteeism, and bad behaviour and consequently do not get rehired. Some foreign teachers take advantage of the passive Chinese cultural and sexually harrass teachers aides, staff, and sometimes even students. Others have problems with profanity or smoking in front of young students.
4) Many far better Chinese teachers who studied abroad are returning home to China with education degrees and replacing about 2% of all foreign teachers every year that have no such credentials.
5) Chinese parents are growing more vocal and demanding that better qualified and experienced foreign teachers be hired. 47% of foreign teachers in China admit they never taught any subject to any students before coming to China in our 2012 Annual Teacher Survey which you can read at http://www.ChinaForeignTeachersUnion.org
6) More and more licensed schools are moving towards an AP Program that requires certified subject teachers which are difficult to find in China's expat community. They are expected to replace about one third of China's foreign ESL teachers by 2020. At present, there are now 41,378 foreign expat teachers working in China and 72% of them are concentrated in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
You can read more about China's teaching trends, problems, and issues at http://www.ChinaForeignTeachersUnion.com and stay tuned to www.ESLWatch.info.