Preparing the Next Generation of African Development Professionals
In a recent Devex survey of global development recruiters, they named the African continent as the region where they expect the most hiring to take place in 2016. At least half of those positions, if not significantly more, are expected to be filled by national, rather than international candidates.
As the center of gravity of foreign aid further shifts to the Global South, more and more opportunities are opening up for young professionals to take a leadership role in the development of their home countries. But what kinds of opportunities are available and what skills, education and training should aspiring professionals seek to qualify for these positions today and in the future?
Last week, we attended a Devex exclusive webinar, featuring guest speakers from the World Bank, Paris School of International Affairs and recruiting experts from Devex discussing development hiring trends across Africa and how budding development workers can prepare for these new opportunities.
Ericka Copening, Senior Recruitment Officer at The World Bank and Programme Manager at the organisation’s Diversity and Talent Desk provided valuable insight into future World Bank hiring trends.
Although a significant number of hires at the organisation operate from the headquarters in Washington, the organisation is actually decentralising, meaning that an increasing number of opportunities are located outside of the US, particularly in emerging markets.
Sourcing more candidates from Sub-Saharan Africa
The World Bank’s current mission is to hire a portfolio of professionals from underrepresented demographics within the organisation. Large hiring missions are underway in the Caribbean, Korea, and Nordic countries, with a focused effort in Africa. They seek African nationals to join their team across multiple regions and roles. The Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Nigeria are primary recruiting locations, with both in-continent and global positions available.
Since an increasing number of World Bank hires are coming from emerging markets, hiring managers are looking beyond Ivy-League educated applicants in search of diverse education perspectives. Hiring managers face the challenge of finding the right candidates and are currently asking themselves the question: ‘When you have Harvard smarts, but not Harvard money, where do you go?’ To answer this question and increase diversity within the World Bank Group, they are assessing top schools in developing countries from which to recruit.
Programmes for Women
The organisation has a deliberate focus on hiring more female employees. Fifty per cent of all mid-career hires at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, must now be female. Other member organisations within the Group are following suit.
However, a greater gender balance also needs to be attained at the senior and executive levels. To address gender-specific issues, the organisation has a mentorship programme, providing career coaching and creating a community to take actions on behalf of its female employees.
The majority of Bank hires come from academic backgrounds in Finance, Research, Analytics or Economics with a strong quantitative focus. Applicants with at least two areas of expertise and multiple language proficiencies are ideal. The bank is evolving to be a leader of innovation within the field of international development and therefore is becoming more open and flexible in hiring profiles. They have been increasingly accepting candidates from smaller think tanks, academics, business and philanthropic organisations. Most importantly, they seek candidates with a passion for the Bank’s mission, solution building skills, and people that can bring a different perspective to the work that they do.
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