FAQ «The UN Youth Volunteers Programme»

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About the programme

Why does Switzerland fund UN Youth Volunteer (UNYV) positions?

Increasing the number of Swiss nationals working in international cooperation, and particularly in the context of the UN, has been an important strategic focus of Swiss foreign policy for many years.

In 2001 the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) and cinfo established a partnership focusing on providing an entry opportunity for young Swiss professionals to join UN agencies and the realm of international cooperation more generally. Through this programme selected volunteers spend one year in a priority country of SDC or HSD working for a United Nations agency.

What are the roles of the Swiss government (SDC and HSD), the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV), and cinfo?

UNV is the agency that hosts the programme, partners and liaises with all funding governments, such as Switzerland, and recruits and deploys the UN Youth Volunteers (UNYVs). Within the Swiss government, the programme is promoted through SDC and HSD, which both fund UNYV positions within their core areas of work and interest. cinfo coordinates the recruitment process, pre-selects UNYVs, provides pre-departure trainings to selected UNYVs and supports them throughout their assignment.

Are SDC and HSD both involved in the same programme?

Yes, both agencies finance and support UN Youth Volunteers (UNYV) positions within their core areas of competency and interest.

Does ‘Volunteer’ mean that I will be working for free?

No. You will receive a monthly living allowance which enables you to sustain a modest and secure standard of living at the duty station (approximately 1500 – 3000 USD per month depending on the living costs in the duty station). The allowances are however not to be understood as a compensation, reward or salary in exchange for your work. Benefits such as travel and health insurance are covered by UNV.

What kind of work will I be doing?

While you are recruited on a UNYV contract, you will carry a functional title proper to your duties and area of expertise (for instance “Associate Human Rights Officer”). You might support an advocacy team raise awareness on sexual and reproductive health issues, assist a Ministry in the creation of monitoring and evaluation tools for a national action plan, or support government efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to learn more about UNYV assignments, please take a look at the new positions advertised here.

Tips for my application

Do I have to apply for a specific position in the programme?

Jobs are posted individually. You are free to apply several times for different positions. However, a maximum of 3 applications per person will be considered.

Which documents are relevant for my application?

Motivation letter, CV (incl % and length of assignment), work certificates, Master diploma/confirmation and other confirmations.

Is there any flexibility with regard to the starting date?

All selected candidates are expected to be ready for fielding in mid-February/March 2021. The exact entry on duty date will be defined together with the host organisation. 

Is there any training offered before the assignment?

Yes, UN Youth Volunteers must be available between the end of January mid-February to attend various pre-departure training sessions and briefings in Bonn, Bienne and Berne.

How specific do I need to be regarding my amount of experience in my CV ?

For us, it is very important to be able to count the amount of your experience. Please implement the exact duration and the percentage of your employment in your CV (01.03.2019 – 30.06.2020 at 50%).

How can I submit my application?

Applications must be submitted via cinfo’s recruitment tool, according to the procedure described on our website.

Can applications be submitted in French or German?

Applications will be accepted in English only.

Requirements regarding educational background

Can I still apply for the programme if I don’t have a Master’s degree?

The minimum requirement for the programme is a Master’s degree.

Can I apply if I am about to complete my Master’s degree?

Yes, you can apply if you have submitted everything and will receive your Diploma or a written confirmation that you have successfully passed by mid-October 2020 at the latest.

Can I apply if I finished my studies over a year ago and then started further studies that I have now completed?

Yes, you can.

Is my field of study of relevance to the programme?

It depends upon the Description of Assignment (DOA) of each position.

Requirements regarding age, nationality, and others

Is there an age limit?

Yes, candidates must be no older than 28 at the start of the assignment. They should be between 18 and 29 years old throughout the duration of their service. (For the next call for application in August 2021: born on or after April 1, 1993).

Do I have to be a Swiss citizen at the time of application or can I apply while waiting for citizenship?

You need to be a Swiss national when you apply for one of the positions financed by SDC, HSD and SECO.

Can I apply if I am not a Swiss citizen but have the Swiss C residence permit?

Only Swiss nationals can apply for the positions financed by SDC, HSD and SECO.

Can I apply if I have dual citizenship (Swiss and that of another country)?

Yes. However, candidates cannot be deployed to countries of which they are citizens.

Can I still apply if I am a Swiss citizen residing outside Switzerland?

Yes. Skype interviews are possible on an exceptional basis.

Professional experience

Do I need work experience in order to apply for the programme?

As this is a programme designed for recent graduates, with ideally one year of relevant work experience, it is expected that prospective candidates have completed relevant short-term placements and/or internships and/or research in a relevant field during their studies.

Should I mention my travel experience?

Yes. You can highlight travel experience in your CV. This will however not be considered as relevant professional experience.

Should I mention my experience in different volunteer groups/activities in Switzerland (i.e.: international cooperation, politics, social issues, sports, etc.)?

Yes. It is important to demonstrate your volunteer/engagement spirit with concrete examples in your CV.

Is it really necessary to have a driving license?

Yes, this is a requirement for positions financed by HSD and is requested due to safety reasons. Please be aware that you need to have the license latest at the day of your interview

Conditions of service

Is there a salary for participants?

Yes. You will receive a living allowance which enables you to sustain a modest and secure standard of living at the duty station. The allowances are however, in no way to be understood as a compensation, reward or salary in exchange for your work. UN Youth Volunteers are also entitled to reimbursement for travel to assignment as well as to Bonn, Germany for the briefing session.

Is it possible to travel with my partner?

That depends on the assignment, and each DOA specifies whether the vacancy is located in a family or non-family duty station. In the case of family duty stations, however, the UN will not cover travel costs (including visa expenses), health insurance or living expenses for the partner or dependents.

What about health insurance, holiday and other such entitlements?

Duty station

Might I be sent to a conflict area?

All assignments are in priority countries as determined by SDC, HSD and SECO. The assignments may take place in post-conflict areas; however, it’s unlikely that you will be posted in a country where there is an active conflict/war.

After the assignment

Will SDC, HSD or SECO be able to extend/finance an extension of my contract after the first year?

No. However, there are cases where the overseas host organisation has found additional means to extend the assignment under a different contract.

Can I apply for another position within the UN system right after a UNYV assignment?

Yes. However, finding a suitable position may be difficult, as there are few of these within the UN system that are open to professionals with less than 3 years of relevant work experience.

Can I expect to be offered a position with SDC, HSD or SECO after a UNYV assignment?


Can I apply for a JPO position after a UNYV assignment?

Yes. This field experience is taken into account at 100% rate and will even increase your chances to be selected provided you have the required years of work experience.

Become a UN Youth Volunteer!

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