Supporting young talent – a new type of entry programme
What can be done about the lack of entry-level opportunities in international cooperation? Mercator Foundation Switzerland turned to cinfo for an answer. The result is the SDG Youth Programme.
"A realistic view of working in organisations"
Mercator Foundation Switzerland
Mercator Foundation Switzerland is committed to an open, engaged society that enables young people to develop their talent. To this end, we promote and implement projects in the areas of education, communication, participation and the environment. We also address questions around digitalisation that cut across all these areas.
Getting into the professional field of international cooperation (IC) is a challenge for young people: few students can afford a poorly paid or even unpaid internship during or after their studies, as is required to gain initial work experience. This hurdle is even higher for young people with a vocational training background because internships generally require a university degree. With these issues in mind, we have developed a new support programme in collaboration with cinfo.
The SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Youth Programme enables interested young people to gain an initial year of work experience with an internationally active NGO or social enterprise. The programme is open not only to young people with a university bachelor’s degree, but also to graduates of higher vocational education. From the outset, those selected will gain a realistic insight into the work of their organisation by being deployed both at the headquarters in Switzerland and in an office abroad.
Potential host organisations applied with job offers. Together with cinfo, we then selected the positions to be advertised.
We turned to cinfo because of its extensive experience in establishing and managing junior programmes.
We turned to cinfo for the development and operational support of the programme because of its extensive experience in establishing and managing junior programmes in the field of IC. cinfo will continue to play an important role after the programme’s inception in outreach, communication, and the recruitment and support of candidates. Monitoring, evaluation and the further development of the programme will be carried out jointly by the two organisations.
In 2021, five positions were advertised with applications closing on May 19 and the successful applicants will start their assignments in September. We look forward to the next stages and further successful collaboration with cinfo.
"Finding innovative entry points"
cinfo, Adrian Marti
Due to the general lack of entry opportunities for young people in international cooperation – especially with Swiss NGOs – Mercator Foundation Switzerland and cinfo have joined forces to create an innovative programme for young talent.
The structure and content of the programme are based on the findings of an initial workshop that brought together interested young people and organisations active in international cooperation (IC). It became clear that new ways were needed to facilitate entry for young people with a first professional or university degree. It is essential to have people from different backgrounds, especially in terms of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Our enquiries as to whether Swiss IC organisations – both NGOs and social enterprises – would be interested in participating in the programme as host organisations met with a positive response. Therefore, at the beginning of 2021, it was decided to set up the SDG Youth Talent Programme funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland.
The collaboration with Mercator has been very positive. The foundation brings a lot of relevant experience and supports similar programs, such as the Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs. A lot of heart and soul has gone into developing this programme, and we are very pleased that the end result is exactly what we first dreamed of.
cinfo will continue to support innovative programmes for young talent in the future, and strive to bring new host and funding partners on board. As we have seen in the UN Youth Volunteer and Junior Professional Officer programs, there is enormous demand for such entrylevel opportunities. While innovative approaches exist in response to this demand, they need to be translated into reality.
cinfo will continue to support innovative programmes for young talent in the future, and strive to bring new partners on board.
In the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, we need fresh ideas for international cooperation, novel partnership models, and innovative solutions to create more jobs, especially in the areas of health, new technologies, and sustainable investment.
More about the programme
With a bachelor's or professional degree in hand, gain initial work experience with an internationally active NGO or social enterprise.
SDG Youth Programme