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As edtech firms eye a slice of the offline coaching industry, a scramble for experienced teachers has broken out in cities like Kota, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Edtech firms and coaching institutions are promising to double or triple teacher salaries, and sign five-year contracts. Some are even ready to pay three years’ salary in advance to poach talent.

Those in demand are teachers with over 10 -15 years’ experience helping students crack engineering and medical entrance exams. Some are so popular that institutes fear their departure might lead to an exodus of students.

“Teachers are getting hired at triple their earlier salaries, or being offered lucrative joining bonuses. The really famous ones are signing five-year contracts with assurance of job security. Coaching centres are worried that edtech companies will take away their best teachers and that students will follow," said a senior executive at a leading coaching firm in Kota.

Mint has learnt that edtech firm Unacademy is hiring teachers from Kota by doubling salaries, sometimes offering an advance payment of 2.5-3 years’ salary. Annual salaries for teachers in coaching institutes typically vary between 10 lakh and 25 lakh, and the popular ones can make between 50 lakh and 1 crore. Some are even partners in their coaching centres and take home a part of the revenue.

Unacademy has said it will open its first centre in Kota in June , followed by Jaipur, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Patna, Pune and Delhi. As the pandemic growth tapers off and as students return to physical classroom settings, large edtech companies like Vedantu and Byju’s have also announced forays into offline teaching. The three did not respond to Mint’s queries sent on Saturday.

A sign that the fight for teaching talent has reached a flashpoint came when Brajesh Maheshwari, the director and co-founder of test preparation centre Allen Career Institute, in a video clip last week warned his teachers that they could be “blacklisted" if they join other organizations. “When teachers leave in the middle of the session, this leaves students in a state of confusion and turmoil. These young minds come to us from all corners of the country, leaving their families behind. They have faith in our system and it is the professional and moral responsibility of teachers to do their job honestly and not fall prey to money," Naveen Maheshwari, director at Allen Career Institute, said in an interview. He denied that faculty who had decided to quit were being threatened. “We have a strong faculty and administration staff of around 10,000. The message was not perceived in the correct context. No threat was given to anyone," Maheshwari said.

One of the leading coaching centres in Kota held meetings last week, assuring its teaching staff of career growth and opportunities. But, wary of attrition, even online firms are trying to adapt. “One unique thing that we have started post pandemic, as compared to the offline education centres, is offering weekly payments for teachers," said online learning platform Gurusiksha’s founder and CEO Dipak Jha. “For full-time teachers, we are offering 30-35% hike on joining. We have also started onboarding teachers on a contract basis for which we are paying 700 an hour for a 3-4 hour-long class," the Delhi-based centre’s CEO said.

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