Why support talent programmes

Young talent programmes managed by the UNDP JPO Service Centre

The UNDP JPO Service Centre manages several young professional programmes, including the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) and the UNDP Specialist Development (SDP) Programmes.

Their overall goal is to provide young professionals the opportunity to gain experience in the field of international development cooperation.

These programmes aim to build the capacity of the global development sector, while providing UNDP and other UN organizations with young talent with promising professional development. 

Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme

JPOs are young professionals usually, under 32 years old, and assigned to UNDP or any other UN organisations for two to four years.

JPOs are talented young professionals who are interested in working on development-related issues within the context of the UN. They are directly involved in the design and implementation of the UN’s programmatic or operational activities.

UNDP Specialist for Development Programme (SDP)

SDPs are young professionals with at least five years of work experience and usually under 38 years old. They are assigned to UNDP for two to four years. 

The objectives of the SDP Programme are to:

Augment UNDP’s capacity to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with a particular focus on crisis countries and the humanitarian development nexus.

Attract the expertise and skills needed in support of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.       

Benefits for Partner Countries

Supporting UNDP and the UN in development programmes in the context of the SDGs

These talent programmes are extremely flexible and partner countries can choose the JPO/SDP duty stations and JPO/SDP job descriptions, as well as decide how many, how long, and how often JPOs/SDPs are assigned.

Strengthening South-South Cooperation

The JPO Programme can be used as a convenient way to engage in South-South Cooperation, as UNDP is heavily involved in this topic, and as a JPO partner, can decide which country to support and which topics their JPOs should work on.

Giving young professionals exposure to the UN’s work and development cooperation

The JPO Programme provides the partner country the opportunity to build a pool of young talent in the field of international development cooperation, which can be a resource base for positions with international organisations as well as national organisations.

Marketing own nationals with the UN System

A JPO position is considered to be one of the best entry points towards becoming an international staff member of UNDP and the UN system in general. More than 55% of all UNDP JPOs stay in the UN system (around 25% are directly retained by UNDP) after their JPO assignment.

Building a national resource base in the field of international and development cooperation

Former JPOs returning to their home country have become valuable human resources in key ministries and cooperation agencies. Between 2000 and 2018, 25% of ex-JPOs returned to their home countries to continue working in the field of international cooperation.

How to partner with us

Governments interested in pursuing this initiative have two ways in which opportunities can be further explored: either sponsor their own nationals, or fund a certain percentage of citizens of developing countries. 

This can be done through a four-step process

  • Memorandum of Understanding

The partner country signs a Memorandum of Understanding with UNDP to partner on the talent programme in question. The document mentions the priority regions, countries and practice areas decided by the partner country. 

  • Choosing the number of positions to fund

Even after signing the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the JPO or SDP Programme, there is no obligation on the part of the partner country to sponsor any number of JPOs during any given year.  

Should the partner country wish to fund some JPOs/SDPs, it will be able to decide how many should be recruited, based on the budgetary situation or other factors. The estimated cost of each assignment is shared in advance with the partner country for information, prior to final funding confirmation.

  • Choosing the JPO/SDP positions to fund

Partner countries can access the JPO online request system to review a compilation of JPO job descriptions. The UNDP JPO Service Centre can also be contacted directly to identify JPO and SDP positions that could match its priorities.

  • Administration of the JPO/SDP position

The JPO Service Centre takes care of all the administrative aspects of the JPO/SDP Programme to ensure that its running does not place a strain on the partner country's capacity to deal with other priority issues.

Partner countries may either fully outsource the short-listing, interviewing and selection of candidates to the JPO Service Centre, or they may wish to get involved in some of these processes.

For more information, please contact the JPOSC partnership focal point Jean Luc Marcelin.