A Hong Kong school took out an ad in a paper last week offering Lam Yat-yan, a tutor, $US11 million (£7.1 million) to quit his job and work for them.
Modern Education’s attempt to poach Lam away from rival school Beacon Group illustrates the growing trend for what are dubbed ‘super tutors’ in the super crowded city, according to the Financial Times.
In Hong Kong, where competition is fierce for places at top universities, and parents spend huge amounts of both time and money ensuring that their kids get into the best colleges, tutors like Lam are revered in the same way as celebrities. Go to the city, and you can see their faces daubed all over billboards and in TV ads.
Appearance is everything for these tutors, as Kelly Mok, a high profile tutor in Hong Kong told the BBC in 2012“If you want to be a top tutor, it definitely helps if you are young and attractive. Students look at your appearance,”
Mr. Lam is no exception to the rule, and could easily pass for a popstar, sporting good looks and immaculately styled hair. Coby Lam, a former student of the superstar tutor told the FT “I have friends who worship him like a god,” while another student of his also said “I saw people crying even in some of his video classes, all because of the motivational things he said.”
In the city, two companies rule the tutoring roost — first is the Beacon Group, Lam’s current home, and second is Modern Education, the firm seeking to poach Hong Kong’s most popular tutor. The companies are fierce rivals and, as the FT reports, tutors are often made to sign non-competition clauses to stop them jumping ship.
Lam already earns more than HK$35.5 million (£2.9 million: $US4.6 million) working for Beacon Group, one of Hong Kong’s biggest tutoring firms.
It’s no wonder Lam is in so much demand. As the Financial Times reports, Beacon said in its prospectus to the Hong Kong stock market earlier this year that Lam was responsible for 40% of the company’s revenue. This means that he brought in more than HK$150 million (£12.5 million: $US19.3 million) to the company.
Lam declined the offer from Modern Education, posting a message on his Facebook page last Thursday which said “For a long time, the school and I have maintained a good relationship, and together, we have built an ideal teaching platform … Therefore under a fair and reasonable working environment, I am willing to continue to work here. I believe I can support myself and my family so it makes no difference to me whether I have HK$50 million or HK$80 million more.”
Regardless of Lam turning down this new offer, its obvious that tutoring will remain a huge money spinner for both Beacon and Modern Education. The FT reports that there are more than 180,000 high school students in Hong Kong.
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