“There is no doubt that I have grown professionally in the last three years with UNHCR and shall continue to work with the same spirit in the days to come. I feel more professional, ready to learn more and to continue to grow. The JPO programme is an excellent entry point for any newcomer to learn and to determine their future goal.” Suprity Timilsina, Associate Protection Officer in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme provides the opportunity for young university graduates, and young qualified professionals to obtain training as well as exposure to UNHCR's humanitarian work in the field or at Headquarters.
As at February 2012, fifteen Governments/Organisations sponsor over 70 JPOs under the UNHCR JPO Programme. These are: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and USA. The duration of a JPO assignment varies according to the sponsor Government (2 to 4 years).
Certain Governments (such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy) also at times sponsor JPOs from other countries under the Developing Country Scheme (JPO/DC).
In UNHCR, the JPO gains working experience, while under supervision from UNHCR officers, in the fields of protection, the provision of humanitarian assistance in various emergency and special programmes, and in other areas such as technical support services or donor and external relations. The areas of expertise which UNHCR looks for in candidates, are in particular in law, public administration and social sciences. JPOs are expected to have excellent knowledge of English and/or French (depending on the geographical area to which they are to be assigned); knowledge of other official UN languages is a definite advantage. The JPO age-range is from 25 to 32, although in exceptional cases this limit may be waived. The age limit (if there is one) will be imposed by the sponsoring Government.
Minimum requirements individuals must meet for being considered as JPOs are:
- Degree equivalent to a Bachelor's Degree or a Master's Degree a in a field equivalent and/or relevant to the functions requested in the job description.
- At least two to four years of relevant work experience (two years with a Master Degree (or higher) or 4 years with a Bachelor Degree).
- Proficiency in English (spoken and written). Knowledge of a second language of the United Nations a strong asset. Computer literacy in standard software applications. Keen and demonstrated interest in the United Nations and humanitarian issues, in particular, and ability to live and/or serve in hardship locations.
- Ability to establish and maintain good working relations with people of different national and cultural backgrounds.
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