The Young Experts Programmes have reached a new milestone: the 200th young professional has got off to a flying start and has reached the tenth round. The programmes offer young Dutch professionals the opportunity to gain experience overseas. With the help of Dutch organisations, the programmes also enable young local professionals to get their first taste of an international working environment. The programmes are implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Food Partnership and NWP.
200th Young Expert
In her blog, YEP Programme Manager Marjon Reiziger looks back on the achievements to date and anticipates the future of the programmes. "I couldn’t be more proud. Mainly, of course, because there are now more than 200 young people at work and because so many of those young people have taken fantastic steps in their careers. On Monday we kicked off the tenth batch and celebrated the milestone of having helped our 200th Young Expert. At the moment we’re already up to Young Expert 214. The information session for the eleventh batch attracted even more young people, with the result that that batch is already half full. Places are limited and demand is so high that we often have to move applications to a future batch. Our 200th young professional, Berry van den Pol, works for the Practica Foundation in Burkina Faso and is starting work with the Sahel Irrigation Initiative, a large-scale World Bank project that is active in six West African countries. He gave a great presentation about it this week.
All 200 are close to my heart, but if I had to pick just two I think I’d start with Selemawit Zewdu Yetemegn from the very first batch, from 2013 to 2015. She started with the Rain Foundation in Ethiopia, and is now working with the Dutch embassy in the area of water and climate change. She has built up a fantastic network, she really knows how to get things moving and she has been the catalyst for other companies to deploy young professionals in Ethiopia. I’d also like to mention Peter Bervoets from Vitens Evides International, who has stayed in constant contact with us, gives us tips and lets us know about developments and businesses we should approach. I see that enthusiasm so often, and it’s really infectious."
"In my view, the success of YEP is down to two factors. First, over the years we have remained consistent and unwavering in what we have set up. The basics are the same, they’re recognisable: the same playing field, the same rules. At the same time, we are working to maintain quality on all fronts: the training programme, the coaching and support, the alumni events, the reporting, the communication.
And we’ve shown that it works. We recently published the first edition of YEP Effect, an online magazine that will come out every few months. It’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate the impact our programmes have: on the young professionals themselves, on the organisations they work for and on the Dutch water and agrifood sectors. We use the “impact chain tool” to achieve this, as it offers a smart way to show what YEP is producing. There are countless examples from in the field, such as Myanmar, where we began with just one young professional. Now there are 16 people working in that country, for a diverse range of companies. One of the coaches has just come back from that country; there was a lunch with the ambassador, the deputy and the embassy’s water and food expert. That’s somewhere where you can really see the impact YEP has had."
Room for growth
"The Young Experts Programmes are unique in the Netherlands, and they’ve definitely been successful. You have to take advantage of that potential. We’ve managed a smooth expansion into agrifood, and now we’re looking to expand again: for instance into energy, logistics and transport and textiles. There’s room for growth geographically, too: although we’re already active in 68 countries, there’s definitely room for more, not least in Europe. Ultimately we could end up with a programme that covers the full diversity of the top-sector policy. Of course we’re not there yet – right now we’ve got our hands full with the current programmes. First let’s get to young professional number 300!"
If you would like to deploy a young professional in your international water or agrifood project, please submit your project request before 1 March. For this round, we are especially looking to receive project proposals that use Dutch Young Experts; we have already received a great many applications for Young Experts in other regions, and the programme aims to achieve a 50/50 ratio in each round. You can find more information here.