Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on Nova...

I think the situation differs from branch to branch. I just read a post by one alleged block trainer who says he used to do demos every day and he hasn't done one in 2 months. As he points out, no demos equals no sales equals no students... equals big trouble. But he also name checks the old Diplomat books, which haven't been used since before even I left, which makes me question his credentials.

Still, if he is who he claims to be and this is part of a general trend, then his basic point is correct. Nova is in big trouble and teachers and staff need to start getting out. Out out out. Like I did. Not to panic, but to use this time to first think over how important it is for you to stay in Japan... and then to act. If you really want to continue living in Japan, there are opportunities galore out there. It'll just take some dilligence and time on your part.

And if you're not happy here, if you have severe allergic reaction to Japan and Nova... then this is the perfect time to go home. Which I highly recommend to just about anyone who wants to sit around and complain about all the social ills of Japan. That's not helping you, Japan or anyone. So go home.

Oh, and if you do take my advice, make sure you tell any friends who are considering working for Nova not to do it. I didn't have a terrible time there, but that's what I tell people who ask me about it. Don't work there- unless you do it to get a visa and then get your ass busy finding another job pronto.

Evidently, at some branches, teachers haven't been paid. Or something like that. It's difficult to puzzle all this out because the message boards are jammed with people weighing in with breathless predictions and alarmist rants. But if I'm sifting the bullshit out, it does appear that Nova has changed the pay dates for its trainers (the ol' titled teacher position... a kind of corporal/E-4 or to continue the military analogy from my previous post) in some areas.

Boy, that's some serious stuff if Nova doesn't pay teachers. Most teachers will refuse to work. I wouldn't have gone to work without pay, I know that much. We had maybe one AT at our branch... maybe two if they approached her the right way... who probably would've continued working. But come to think of it, that AT jumped ship not long after I left and everyone thought he was a corporate suck-up and Nova lifer.

My image of it went something like this: Upper management (RAAMs and AMs or whatever they call them... never could keep that bureaucratic nonsense straight as I never had any inclination of climbing the ladder) and Japanese staff getting the pay-shaft in order to keep the teachers from walking en masse. A cut-off on new teachers (according to one poster, the airplanes are still bringing them in, though... not sure if that's true) and a lot of transfers. Cutting operations and expenses at much as possible (causing some teachers to bitch even more and with good reason this time). A number of people resigning and going home (there are almost always people who hate Japan at a branch who should be more than willing to get out ASAP)... and then the company coming back as a leaner, smaller organization.

But maybe not. To be honest, Nova's closure would probably be a good thing for our school. We've signed a few new students in the past month to replace all those who've moved to Canada to use their English in a native setting. We're not looking to expand or grow, but we could always use a few new dedicated learners to fill out our schedule. If we're lucky, that's what will happen.

So what exactly will happen if Nova goes down? Some say they know already.

Nova has (or had) about 480,000 students in 900 branches. Someone speculated that it'll lead to boom times in ESL, the way things were in the storied get-rich-quick days of the Japanese Economic Bubble when all those students flood the market.

But I'm not so sure. First of all, we have to consider if this adverse publicity hurt the other big eikaiwas. Japan is an image-conscious nation and once an idea gets out there, it tends to solidify. Plus, there's already a growth industry in Korean language. Korean pop culture is very popular here right now; maybe learning Korean or even Chinese will be the trend of the future. That leaves cats like me out in the cold, doesn't it?

And we can't be certain at this point that Nova will close its doors. Some of the posters seem hysterically bent on this point. I'll concede it's a definite and even likely possibility. But not a given. There are still hundreds of thousands of students in the mix. That's a lot of money coming in. If Nova can stop the hemorrhaging, they do stand a chance of being a better company. You can take that as you may, for better or worse.

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