How tech is disrupting property management

Property management is the art and science of managing real estate. Property management services are growing at a phenomenal rate worldwide, with the United States alone accounting for around 34,000 property management companies.

Think of a property management firm, and one would instantly visualize an office, group of employees, contractors galore and so on – an expensive proposition indeed. This is how it has been for eon years. But technology is changing things and how! A wave of technological innovation is revolutionizing property management by ushering lower costs and better quality of services, and equipping today’s property managers with the property management skills to negotiate the complex market dynamics.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping the field of real estate. It is of immense help for the property managers to monitor critical maintenance systems, for owners to save time and money through automation of management and maintenance tasks, and for the residents to regulate their energy usage.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) devices such as Oculus Rift offer an engaging VR experience. The VR headsets are making it possible for property purchasers and renters to have an immersive view of commercial and residential properties in advance. Getting to know a place cannot get any better than this.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) does not create a new world, unlike virtual reality, but rather enhances that which is already seen. AR is a cost-effective tool for property managers as it can be used through smartphone technology.

Smart Building

smart building controls its heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and other operations with the use of sensors and microchips. These features enable the owners and facility managers to reduce energy usage, optimize space and minimize the environmental impact.

Big Data

Big Data or the mining of a huge amount of data for information will help property owners and investors to make smart decisions regarding acquisition, management and disposition of a property. Estate agents will be able to diversify their offerings, providing customers with further value-added services.

Drone Technology

Drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Drones can not only provide a breathtaking aerial view of a property, but also be employed for inspection purposes.

Fiber Optics

Streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix are becoming the favored knowledge and entertainment choices of the modern generation. A good bandwidth is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Buildings equipped with fiber optics are coming into vogue to fulfill the demand for faster internet in these 4G times.

Maintenance Management Software

Maintenance Management softwares allow property managers to record maintenance and repair work orders and manage work in real-time with the help of a mobile device, tablet, or desktop computer.

Bots

Bots are the future of customer management. Chatbots, powered by Artificial Intelligence, will attend to customer queries and supplement virtual project tours, thereby allowing the company employees to address complex matters.

Technology can be harnessed for a better tomorrow if all the stake-holders act in tandem.

What would Henry Ford think?

As technology continues moving at lightning speed, players in the automotive industry need to have their wits about them as they continue to brace themselves for increased competition.

They face brutal battles for market share and at the same time must attempt to strike a balance between costs, efficiency, safety and the vagaries of a fast-changing consumer base.

Automakers are having to become innovators, shaping the directions of their companies and positioning themselves for an exciting but bumpy ride ahead.

Today, the companies that build and produce the vehicles that we require have to deal with so much more than the car makers of yesteryear.

As the industry keeps moving forward, the layperson could be forgiven for being unable to keep up. It takes specialized knowledge to be able to know that a fresh graduate new to the working world would require a product based around a novated car lease and in a world where interiors and aesthetics get mentioned in the same breath as Augmented reality displays and Self-Healing paint, automotive companies are finding that they also have to deal with a multitude of consumer preferences, age groups and demographics.

It makes you wonder what Henry Ford would think if he saw some of the ‘basic’ features the cars of the future will be expected to have…

Electric mobility

Whether hybrid or fully electric, the days of fossil fuels may be numbered as we enter the age of cars powered and recharged via a power grid. This is where dear old Henry’s head may start to spin as he tries to differentiate between the car of the future and a regular home appliance…

Automated driving

As Henry leans into the driver’s seat of his brand new, future car, he takes the wheel and the car takes off…without him driving it. By this time, the self-driving car would most probably have become a reality although (at the present moment) some may say it all seems like just a pipe dream.

Reverse sensing systems

Henry would possibly be a little more impressed with his shiny new, future car’s numerous safety features. With a reverse sensing system in the car, he’s warned by a beeper whenever there’s an object too close behind him. The closer the object, the more frequently the beeper beeps.

Automatic braking

It may be safe to assume that Henry Ford would have found the auto brake system kind of cool. With this feature installed in a car, a sensor gauges whether a vehicle is closing in too quickly and automatically hits the brakes at full force if the driver does not react in time. Someone might have to warn Mr Ford about this part first before letting him into the car however…

Blind spot warning

One could guess that Henry Ford would not have anticipated the blind spot sensor (the thought may have crossed his mind though before quickly realizing that the technology was just a little out of reach). This camera that helps a driver acknowledge the presence of cars or objects in those pesky blind spots can also be as simple as a blind spot mirror that attaches to the rear-view mirror or side mirrors.

Is the Future Bright for Solar Energy?

Humanity is on the crossroads. There is a huge demand for energy, with estimates suggesting that by 2040, the world will need to add the equivalent of India and China’s current energy system to meet the demands of a surging global population, burgeoning incomes and technological advancements. There is also a real danger that our energy reserves will get exhausted as fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas will eventually run out. What better than solar energy to manage a looming energy crisis?

The sun is the largest energy resource available to humankind. According to United States government estimates, a whooping 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth each year and this is more than 10,000 times the total global energy usage. The sun is also the most renewable resource as it is merely 4.6 billion years old and will last for has another 5 billion years. The other energy sources have their origin in the sun, with the exception of nuclear, geothermal and tidal energy. Fossil fuel has arisen over millions of years, with carbon-based life forms acting as batteries, while wind and wave power is solar power absorbed across the Earth’s surface.

The advantages of solar energy are manifold, ranging from lower greenhouse emissions, availability in remote locations, generation of green jobs and reduced dependence on fossils fuels. And technology is moving in the direction of tapping this vast resource.

Perovskite solar cells

Solar cells generate electrical power by converting solar energy into electricity. Most solar cells are made of silicon, are expensive and have an efficiency level of just 16-20%. Perovskite solar cells, or cells made of perovskite, could be the future of the solar cell as they would be more economical.

Transparent solar panels

Transparent solar panels can generate as much solar power as rooftop solar panels, according to researchers from Michigan State University. The research team has created a transparent luminescent solar concentrator that generates solar energy on clear surfaces without impacting the view. This technology can have diverse applications in cell phones, windows, buildings, and cars.

Bio-solar cells

Photo-bioelectrochemical cells are an effective means of converting solar energy into electricity. Just as plants and other organisms make their own food through photosynthesis, bioelectrochemical systems would tap biological capacities inherent in microbes, enzymes and plants to catalysis electrochemical reactions.

Floating panels, floating solar farms

Large ground-mounted solar panels often encounter space paucity. Floating panels and floating solar farms would resolve this problem by placing the solar panels and farms suspended on platforms in the air.

Solar energy harvesting trees

Solar and 3D printing technologies are being used to develop prototypes of energy-harvesting trees. The tiny leaves of these trees would generate and store solar energy that will power small appliances and mobile devices.

It is true that solar energy has failed to take off substantially due to its prohibitive costs and inconsistent availability. But the upsides dwarf the downsides, if only humankind succeeds in harnessing the vast untapped solar energy.

New Technology Will Not Replace You

There is a great deal of apprehension of how some of the emerging technologies will impact the accounting profession. The very notion of the blockchain and distributed ledgers would seem on the surface to be aimed directly at the accounting profession. It will no doubt have a huge impact going forward but this is not the first time that accountants have had to adapt to changing technology. Tax prep software did not eliminate tax accounting and the advent of the blockchain will not eliminate auditing or other accounting process such as invoice factoring. But like all technology it will change how work is done. This was true for the adding machine and personal computer and it will also be true for the blockchain.

According to a recent study, 57% of global corporations are planning to implement some form of blockchain into their business. It is coming and the accounting profession has so far been very slow to adapt to this change. Which is not only the accounting professions fault, they have been waiting for guidance from other authorities that can’t even decide if Bitcoin is a currency or a commodity. So if even these fundamentals have yet to reach a consensus it is difficult to expect that the accounting profession would have developed accounting rules for their treatment, but your clients are going to want answers nonetheless. It should not stop you from preparing yourself by learning more about this technology and how it is likely to affect your clients and in turn your practice.

While how to treat cryptocurrencies seems to attract a lot of attention it is the distributed ledger portion of the blockchain that will have an even greater impact on accounting. It holds the promise of being able to automate many processes within the business and because it uses internal smart contracts can be relied to carry out complex tasks without any human intervention it will be widely implemented across industry. Because it is distributed it is impervious to interruption and because it is self validating it can be trusted, it has all the makings of becoming the accountants new best friend except for the fact that none of the accounting software firms seem to have a way to seamlessly integrate it into legacy accounting software.

As with other technological changes that accounting has faced over the decades the best way to deal with it is increased training for accountants in the technology itself. While we may have seen amortization tables replaced by the online personal loan calculator, it did not eliminate the need for trained accountants. Just like your predecessors had to learn to give up the paper ledger for an electronic spreadsheet you are going to have to learn how to work with distributed ledgers. One area that should be of particular note is that as smart contracts become ubiquitous there will be increasing demand for accountants that can actually read the smart contracts and understand what they will do under particular business conditions. Probably as good a place as any for your education to start while you wait for the rest of the profession to catch up.

How technology is disrupting the maritime industry

For several years now, environmentalists have been raising concerns about the health of our planet’s oceans. The depletion of oxygen levels in the oceans caused by global warming will significantly impact Marine life in the decades to come.

It is impossible to overstate or exaggerate the importance of oceans to the sustainability of our planet. In monetary terms, it is estimated that they are worth USD 24 Trillion, bigger than the economy of the United States. Given that background, it is no stretch to say that significant damage to our oceans will have drastic repercussions for the rest of the planet.

The good news is that technological transformations are disrupting marine technologies, largely for the better. Here are a few trends to watch out for in this sector.

Lower human intervention: We are already witnessing machines take over routine tasks hitherto performed by humans. In the marine sector, the extent of the disruption is assuming proportions which were barely imaginable even a decade ago. As it is, the average crew size today is estimated at a mere 6 percent of what it was in 1850.

As it stands now, the transformation is all set to reach a whole new level with unmanned ships all set to become a reality. In fact, the technology is already available. If it hasn’t become a reality already, it is due to the fact that the laws still do not permit them. Nonetheless, do not be surprised if you find tug boats with no one on board coming to your rescue in the not too distant future.

Environment friendly design

Traditionally, ships used to be designed to accommodate a sizeable crew. With crew size now down to a minimum (or possibly non-existent), air conditioning, heating and ventilation will no longer be required. That will not only mean drastically changed designs, but also lower fuel consumption.

Secondly, an unmanned vessel can be allowed to slow steam i.e. operate well below full speed, which will further reduce fuel consumption.

Process automation

Robots are commonly employed for inspection and maintenance work. Thanks to artificial intelligence, robots are not necessarily remote controlled any longer, with autonomous robots increasingly being deployed to carry out tasks dangerous for humans.

In fact, process automation has thrown open the doors for newer players to enter the fray- as has been the case with so many other industries. With technology giants like Amazon entering the maritime space, expect the industry to undergo a massive structural shift in the years to come.

Lower risk of piracy

Piracy remains a major menace in international waters, especially off the eastern African coast. However, technology could prove to be the unexpected saviour, with the combination of unmanned ships and robotics proving effective tools in the battle against piracy.

The advantage of having a remote-controlled ship is that it can be shut off by an operator sitting at shore, which means that it would be impossible for pirates to take control over the vessel. Robots are deployed for spying and information gathering in hostage situations.

When enough is not enough: bringing safety back to the construction industry

Building in harmony with the earth has long been considered a tradition of many native cultures.

However, as we continue to be bombarded by heart-breaking images of devastation and displacement of wildlife and as dollars and cents become the prime driver, it is becoming all too clear that urban development today lacks empathy.

Amid this disregard for the natural world and our relation to it, it should come as no surprise that the safety of the people that build our homes, offices, buildings and cities is often left by the wayside despite the intervention of worker’s unions and government bodies.

Whether home to you is a cabin in the woods, a mansion in the hills, a serviced apartment or a flat in the concrete jungle, if you live within the confines of four walls and a roof, you are a customer of the construction industry.

The field of construction employs a whole host of folks and (as part of the job description) often places them in harm’s way.

A little like soldiers without the glory, these men and women brave unbelievable heights and even death, sometimes without proper precautions being taken to ensure their safety on the job.

The many cases of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry as a result of firms willing to cut corners when it comes to the safety of their workers should give us pause.

It is a sacred duty on the part of any employer to ensure safety on the job and to take concrete steps towards minimizing the risk of grievous injury and death. For the construction industry, this means implementing the safety regulations and standards set forth by the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Technology can also play a part in bringing much needed change. All the way from the planning stage, implementation of the right kind of software can enable architects to establish in digital form the way that a finished development should look like.

With the technology that we have at our disposal, architects today have no excuse to not build their work in the safest, most practical and most efficient way possible.

Virtual tours (via virtual reality) are already beginning to replace the old, expensive tools used to build mock-ups. Through virtual tours, visitors are able to experience the building/development as if they are actually there, allowing refinement of safety features to happen before a single brick, piece of steel or slab of concrete has even been placed.

Cases of death on the job due to possible contact with a vehicle should raise concerns about the ability of construction companies to properly manage their fleet. Although, fleet management is largely equated with the transportation/logistics industry, it has a much needed place in construction as well.

Being able to properly manage the use, operation and maintenance of vehicles that construction companies operate can mean the difference between life and death and foster a safer, happier and healthier work environment.

The Questionable History of the Scotch Egg

Back in 1738, Piccadilly was scattered with coaching inns, and served as a starting point for landowners travelling to their country estates. To meet the ever-increasing demand of portable snacks, Fortnum & Mason – a London departmental store, came up with a new delicacy for its most affluent customers: a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried. Lo and behold, the Scotch eggs appeared on the menu for the very first time!

A competing origin story also argues that Scotch eggs are heavily inspired by a Mughlai dish called nargisi kofta, egg was wrapped that was discovered by the British soldiers during their time in India. Here, the egg was wrapped in lamb mince, fried, and served covered in a yogurt based, brown gravy. After returning to England, the soldiers introduced the beloved recipe to their cuisine. In the 19th century, Scotch Eggs were put on the plate alongside hot gravy, according to the printed recipes in domestic bibles by Margaret Dods, Maria Rundell and Mrs Beeton.

Another contrary tale suggests that the recipe for the traditional Scotch egg is deeply rooted in the coastal town of Whitby in Yorkshire. Believed to be invented by the establishment William J Scott & Sons, the eggs were originally were covered first in a thick, creamy fish paste (instead of the sausage meat), and then with breadcrumbs. The fish was later replaced by sausage meat once the the concept of Scotch eggs became more commercialized and became available in big food shops. You can still treat yourself to the original delicacy of the fish-covered Scotch eggs on the East Yorkshire coast.

Some evidence also points towards North African recipes that were transported to England through France. The dish was also enjoyed during the Elizabethan times, where it was injected various spices and cloves for a more palatable taste.

Today, they’re usually served with a variety of dipping sauces like mustard or ranch dressing, and have many regional and local variations. While Manchester uses pickled eggs wrapped in pork meat and Lancashire black pudding, Worcester wraps their eggs in white pudding and local sausage meat. A lot of British-style eateries and pubs in United Kingdom offer Scotch eggs stuffed with shredded bacon and mayonnaise. From Texas to Maryland, Scotch eggs are served on a stick in various Renaissance Festivals and State Fairs.

In Jakarta, they’re paired with fresh seafood, bok choy and a veal broth, with the egg wrapped in seasoned minced meat. Hungary serves theirs cold with salad or hot with mashed potatoes. The Dutch and Belgians have their own version – jaskółcze gniazda, where egg-stuffed roulade is commonly accompanied with horseradish cream sauce. In Italy, they’re called polpettone, and consist of a meatloaf with egg filling.

Commonly available in supermarkets, motorway service stations and corner shops, Scotch eggs work best as easy appetizers. Sourced from chickens, quails, and even ostriches – the eggs have a slightly runny yolk on cutting, or a hard-boiled one.

A well-made Scotch egg is a crisp, golden orb of wonder, that is conveniently hand-sized, and a culinary treat that should be on your bucket-list.

Is it possible for businesses to survive without an online presence today?

It’s tough to imagine our world today without internet.

While 30 years ago the prospect of interacting with other humans daily via a “digital forum” would have been unimaginable, today the average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen. Last year, a report that analyzed how much time Americans spend daily using tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs, revealed that the average person devoted 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, with the vast majority of that media sourced from the internet. And this is only growing. The time we are spending browsing the internet on mobile phones in particular is increasing at a significant rate; 69 percent year-on-year, in fact.

But let’s focus for a moment on one specific of branch of online platform: social media.

Facebook’s 1.4 billion global monthly active users spend an average of 20-plus minutes a day, every day, 365 days a year, on the network. Every month, over 500 million people use an app on Facebook or experience Facebook Platform on other websites, and statistics show that more than 50 percent of active users log on to Facebook on any given day of the year. As of September 2017, Instagram had an active membership of over 800 million, making it one of the most popular social networks worldwide. Given these statistics, together with the fact that the average Smartphone user picks up their phone around 1,500 times a week, it should come as no surprise that businesses today are routinely recommended to develop an online presence – or give up.

Nine of out 10 U.S. businesses are in fact already using social for digital marketing efforts – and with success. Ninety percent of those businesses claim they see improvements in terms of both exposure and sales as a result of social media efforts. But a mere three percent of business around the world are currently taking advantage of the potential $1.3 trillion in business value offered by social technologies.

Interestingly, some of the world’s biggest brands are still holding back from launching themselves into the social media world, and it’s highly likely they never do so. Marlboro, Trader Joe’s, Viagra – even Apple have no official account on Facebook or Instagram. But they can get away with it.

Small and medium businesses can’t, it seems.

According to the basic tenets of ‘digital availability’, the reasons for having a responsive, search optimized website and social media presence – at the very least – are as follows.

Firstly, it ensures your brand is always found when people search for their product or service needs. People need to be able to know how to contact or connect with you. Jenny Servis, Vice President of Marketing for SnapRetail, says 85 percent of searches for products and services are happening online today, so if you want to ensure you are being found – it’s a fairly simple conclusion that you need to be online also. Many small or medium business owners ignore online marketing efforts because “they don’t have enough time” to invest in them or because they are in a “traditional” industry. But the truth is, being online allows you to leverage multiple avenues so as to gain better business, leading to more results for less effort than you might have invested in offline marketing efforts. Think about it, not everyone likes talking over the phone. An online presence offers potential customers the easiest and most fuss-free method of learning about available products.

Secondly, getting online will demonstrates your company’s modernity and show that you are ahead of the times, developing products that are in sync with the changing times. Consumer expectations have evolved – and so too should businesses. Having an online presence on a live platform also allows business owners to reinvent or upgrade the brand whenever they like, sending their message to audiences loud and clear within millisecond.

Next, digital marketing efforts are extremely cost effective compared to other forms of advertising. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates digital marketing is five to six times more cost effective than direct mail, on a cost-per-conversion basis, or print advertising. Business owners also have greater freedom to control the amount of money they wish to spend on digital materials, and can take advantage of cheap ‘Boosts’ or ‘Paid Ads’ on Facebook – a small investment for a big result. With the help of the right digital marketing agency, business owners can set up their company’s online presence for very little money.

It goes without saying that unless a company is as big or well-established as Apple or Marlboro, it’s vital the company sees an investment in digital marketing efforts. The low costs, targeted reach and creative freedom digital advertising offers business owners is why it has been hailed one of the most effective ways of creating brand awareness and improving sales. Companies need to get online in order to get onboard.

Can technology help us better cope with climate change-related natural disasters?

In recent years, the world has experienced a record number of back-to-back natural disasters. In the U.S. over 110 large fires burned throughout the country last summer alone, with California facing its deadliest heat wave ever. One study found that the area affected by forest fires in the West has more than doubled over the past 30 years, with Washington state having experienced in most damaging fire in state history in 2015. Hurricane Harvey and Irma brought devastation to Texas, the Caribbean and Florida last year, wreaking widespread havoc and earning Harvey earning the reputation of the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Southeast Asia suffered catastrophic flooding in 2017, killing 1200 people, displacing tens of thousands and causing more than $3.5 billion in total losses. Then there was the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan that contributed to losses of over $354 billion in today’s dollars, the extreme heatwave of Europe and California’s severe drought of 2017. According to global insurance firm Swiss Re, economic loss in 2017 were estimated at $306 billion – almost double 2016’s loss and also much higher than the 10-year-average of $190 billion.

And the verdict is in. Scientific studies are beginning to reveal that climate change is exacerbating the naturally-occurring risks we already face as inhabitants of planet earth. Extreme event attribution is one of the most rapidly expanding fields of climate science, with one major conclusion being drawn by those studying it: extreme weather events are here to stay.

So how do we prepare for what lies ahead? The answer is one that, ironically, is perhaps responsible for getting us to where we are today. Technology.

Technology can help solve inefficiencies within humanitarian responses to natural disasters. Next gen technology such as robotics and AI can help improve the efficiency and productivity (in terms of cost savings) to emergency responses, as well as allow humanitarian organizations to share data in order to better collaborate with other organizations. Through technologies that enable electronic payments, people in need of fast and secure cash relief can be helped quicker than ever before. But perhaps aiding the coordination and communication effort following a disaster is where we see technology have the most impact. Be it for relief workers on the ground, families seeking loved ones, authorities wishing to locate the missing or hospitals trying to treat the injured, traditional communication channels are often overloaded or broken down and unable to be used during times of crisis. ‘Crisis maps’ is one example of a Google-owned product that works to aid emergency communications and disaster response, using open-source software with information provided live by locals to develop maps of the crisis and publish real time information regarding the impact. Through this platform, messages and texts submitted by those trapped under rubble are able to be heard, enabling quick and efficient response by rescue teams. In the U.S., there are countless apps geared towards survival and rescue during an emergency. The official FEMA app is one example, which allows users to stay updated with weather-related alerts from the U.S. National Weather Service as well as upload and share disaster photos to support the emergency response effort. In a more generalized way, social media can also help save lives and reconnect separated families in the wake of a natural disaster – as well as enable communities to hold agencies to account by spreading awareness of abuse or poor conditions in refugee camps.

Early warning systems and capabilities via mobile technology can also allow people to prepare for oncoming disasters. For example, had Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia utilized early action systems they could have avoided as many as 100,000 deaths during the most recent famine, more than half of which were children, one Oxfam and Save The Children study found.

Technology can also facilitate the development of materials and products that prevent damage inflicted by natural disasters. Bushfire shutters, for example, can reduce the risk of windows exploding due to high temperatures during bushfires, which in turn causes houses to catch fire and perhaps lead to fatalities. Covering the glass surfaces of a home with bush fire roller shutters will likely prevent this from happening and potentially save houses – and lives – during such an emergency. Better yet, the technology of today can converge architectural, engineering and geo-spatial data to put into place better town planning, enabling builders, architects and government to prioritize restoration efforts in the wake of a natural disaster – as well as better plan towns to prevent further damage by natural disasters.

Technology can also help us mitigate climate change through innovations such as renewable energy, in order to reduce the risk climate change poses in terms of natural disasters. Finding and harnessing alternative energy sources are key to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and in turn, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Through tech innovation we will see the complete transformation of the automation industry into one that uses resources more efficiently to reduce waste, pollution, energy usage and use of raw materials. Technology can also allow for large scale growth of lab-developed meats, lessening our dependence on livestock farming which contributes significantly to global warming and uses valuable amounts of land and water.

We simply need to harness all the incredible opportunities technology presents us in order to better cope with the inevitable increase of climate change-related natural disasters we will experience in our lifetime.

Hiring a Caucasian English tutor: is this the most blatant form of racism ever?

1.jpg

Seeking female, native English tutor for ESL student, ideally 18 -30 years old. Caucasian preferred.

There is so much wrong with the above advertisement, one of many seen regularly on online English teaching job boards around the world. For a start, it implies that a certain age and the female gender are more conducive to the world of private teaching – an assumption that belittles the very premise upon which feminism is founded. But let’s focus on the last part of the ad. The ‘afterthought’. Caucasian preferred.

Such is the criteria of so many language teaching agencies – and private employers – around the world today, despite the fact that many native English tutors are of a different ethnic origin. It is commonly said that if you are Caucasian, have a pulse and all your teeth, you’re guaranteed an English teaching job in Asia – a running joke that indicates racism is well and truly embedded in the ESL industry. For anyone not fulfilling the above criteria, finding English teaching work may be next to impossible.

In Hong Kong just last year, one ethnic Asian’s job application to work as a native English tutor was rejected on the grounds they were not Caucasian, sparking outcry from teachers around the world who had received similar rejections in the past.

Currently under the Race Discrimination Ordinance of Hong Kong, it is unlawful for employers to selectively hire persons of a certain race unless they can show that the race of the employee is a Genuine Occupational Qualification (GOQ). The incident was reported to Equal Opportunities Commission – Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination watchdog – and the case is still being investigated today. This is but one of hundreds of similar incidents taking place around the world every single day.

Native English tutor required. Preferably American, British or Australian.

 Despite the fact that an applicant might have been born, raised and educated in the same English-speaking environment as their Caucasian counterparts, they may be turned down by merit of the colour of their skin. Since when is this acceptable?

In most cases, private English tutor centers will employ English teachers who are able to pass a native English proficiency test and who hold a TEFL or TESOL certification, at the very minimum. Alternatively, it is looked on favorably to have passed the Cambridge UCLES CELTA examination or – and this goes without saying – to have a Bachelor of Education. But as the industry grows and the number of teachers seeking ESL jobs does so correspondingly, language schools and agencies are beginning to sharpen their criteria.

In China’s ESL industry in particular, racial discrimination is a harsh reality. There Korean-American Mike Lee and Will Evans – a white Canadian – simultaneously applied for an English teaching position through the New Development School, a teacher-placement agency in Beijing. While they were both fluent English speakers, they were ultimately judged on their appearance only. Lee was rejected, and Evans was hired on the spot.

“We want him [pointing to Evans], but we don’t want you [to Lee],” the recruiter allegedly told them. “Unfortunately, parents of our students don’t really want someone Asian to be teaching.”

Is this just plain racism in its most obvious form? Or is it an issue that speaks simply of misconceptions, snobbery and stereotyping.

Recruits and parents are somehow still getting away with actively and publically seeking blond-hair, blue-eyed archetypes, with Britons most commonly in demand followed by Americans and Australians. And it’s not only in the ESL industry where this happens. “Face jobs” in China pop up regularly on job boards, whereby white people are temporarily employed to “show face” in an important meeting or event in order to denote a sense of ‘white prestige’.

Some argue it’s not language schools that should be held accountable for the industry’s racist undertones, but parents. Schools are merely ‘responding’ to overwhelming demand by uneducated parents who have had so few interactions with people of multicultural backgrounds that they are naïve to the idea of an ethnic Asian or Afro-American being born and raised in an English-speaking environment. They see English as a status symbol and are only prepared to invest in their child’s English education if it means having access to the “right” kind of teacher.

Seongjun Kim, a recruiter living in South Korea, agrees parents often dictate which teachers are deemed suitable for ESL.

“When parents are paying for their children to be taught by an English speaker they often demand the ‘real thing’,” he admitted. “To them, non-whites or Asians aren’t seen as capable English speakers. So when we recruit teachers we actively seek white faces to appease our clients.”

We’re supposed to be moving ever-closer to a world where racism no longer exists, where equality pervades and where our children have greater prospects for peace than we ever did. Teaching young people to treat all races equally should be the very start of all this.