Since 2013, each non-governmental development cooperation organisation that is approved by the Belgian State may apply for affiliation to the Junior Programme. Affiliation allows an NGA (non-governmental actor) to host Junior Assistants in its projects in partner countries of governmental development cooperation.
Currently, 21 Belgian NGOs are affiliated to the Junior Programme.
There are many advantages to having a Junior Assistant (JA) work with you.
The Junior Assistant :
- has gone through a thorough selection procedure, guaranteeing good recruits.
- has one of the many Junior Assistant profiles: geographer, civil engineer, architect, economist, jurist, agricultural engineer, psychologist, communicator, sociologist…
We endeavour to pool as broad as possible a range of profiles in order to meet the varied needs from the field;
- is a professional contributing to your project/programme. It is extra (wo)manpower for at least 1 and up to 2 years with very few costs for the project. The Junior Assistant takes on duties that offer a genuine added value for the project;
- concentrates 100% on tasks that you would like to achieve but for which you have either insufficient time or competences;
For instance, making a geographic database, or training colleagues or a group of beneficiaries in a new approach/tool. For more examples, check the various tasks of former;
- provides your project with qualified know-how and new technical knowledge and/or competences;
- often offers new insights, introduces an external vision to the project and raises questions that may encourage thinking;
- shows a lot of enthusiasm and motivates people around him or her, which may bring dynamism to the project;
- may establish interfaces between projects, even of different organisations, because of the relations with other Junior Assistants in these projects, because of the JA’s curiosity, or the desire to explore other aspects of cooperation;
- receives a mandatory pre-departure briefing in Brussels. This briefing introduces Junior Assistants to professional aspects of development cooperation and prepares them to living and working in a different cultural setting;
- has a training budget in support to the development of the Junior's competences. Thus, the Junior Assistant can further develop certain competences during the contract term in order to better fulfil job requirements.
When one of your projects hosts a Junior Assistant (JA), the Junior Programme asks you to contribute, especially in supporting the Junior Assistant.
Most financial costs are borne by the Junior Programme though.
What does the Junior Programme cover?
- The monthly gross salary of 1,446.09 euro (minimum wage in Belgium)
- Payment of accommodation costs (following ceiling fixed by country)
- Payment of fees for overseas social security (ORPSS)
- Payment of a 13th month, family allowances and double holiday allowance
- Accident, hospitalisation and repatriation insurance
- A contribution 556 euro towards luggage transportation (for both outbound and return)
- One round-trip flight ticket per year
- Certain costs related to expatriation: vaccines, visa, passport…
- An individual training budget of 1000 euro/year which the Junior Assistant can use in view of own work but also to pursue own career plans
- A portable computer, including primary software.
In addition to the costs related to sending and employing a JA in the field, the Junior Programme also covers:
- the whole selection procedure of (an approximate annual 600) candidates;
- the pre-departure preparation and briefing of Junior Assistants.
What your organisation must provide
- The operational costs
Only the functioning costs of the Junior Assistant in the field must be borne by the project: costs for missions, costs for equipment (office furniture, specific software…), telephone bills, etc.
- Administrative support for obtaining residence/work permits
Since the JA will work in your project, the administrative process for the JA obtaining work and residence permits from the authorities of the country of assignment must be prepared.
- Ensure security, jointly with BTC
The organisation hosting a JA must also provide a security briefing and ensure security rules are respected by the JA in the field, such as rules concerning travel, transportation, sites to avoid, communication in case a problem emerges, etc. Security is the only support domain where the NGO and BTC share responsibilities – even with the JA being assigned to the NGO. In fine, BTC remains the final employer of the JA. The JA must respect the strictest rule, which may be either the BTC or the NGO's rule. Good communication about the security rules of each organisation and good communication between the coach of the NGO and BTC's Resident Representative are prerequisites.
Only personal coaching can ensure this kind of experience for a young professional to be a genuine success. The Junior Programme attaches much importance to this aspect. In the field, a Junior Assistant is always coached in his/her work by a 'coach', under whose direct responsibility the Junior works.
We expect the coach to support the JA in :
- elaborating the own action plan based on agreed objectives and bringing it to good end;
- finding own solutions;
- making most of the Junior's potential; and
- gradually achieving more autonomy and responsibility.
The coach of a Junior Assistant is :
- first and foremost a support function and,
- in the second place a means to evaluate the work done.
The Junior Programme provides the coaches with a coaching guide as well as regional training sessions in coaching and support of the Brussels-based Junior Programme team.
Definitions of coaching
The two following definitions summarize our approach to coaching rather well :
- Coach – guide
Coaching can be defined as a relevant method for guiding the learning process of the coachee (= Junior Assistant - JA). This method is designed in such a way that the coachee can function independently in the organisation. Coaching aims at the development of the full potential and the skills of the coachee in view of higher performance and of personal and professional well-being.
Coach – evaluator
The coach of a Junior Assistant may also occasionally have to take on the role of an evaluator assessing the work done; the coach is always responsible for approving requests for leave and training, among others
For a coach to correctly assume his/her duties, the Junior Programme requires that the coach :
- is in the same country as the JA, even though not necessarily in the same place of assignment;
- limits coaching to maximum 2 Junior Assistants;
- is under a direct employment contract with the Belgian organisation that is affiliated to the Junior Programme (BTC or NGO) and the duration of which contract allowing to take on the coaching role for at least the first year of the JA's contract ;
- does not have the technical background for which the JA has required technical support from (a) technical resource person(s).
(For instance, an agricultural coach introduces a request to coach a communication JA. The coach may consequently identify a resource person to assist the JA from a technical/communications point of view);
- commits to establishing a coaching contract with the Junior Assistant, i.e. defines to regularly meet with the JA to discuss his/her objectives and any professional problems encountered;
- commits to meeting the Junior Assistant at least 4 times per year – during development circle meetings – during which constructive feedback is given on the work delivered.
Witness accounts of coaches
Here are some extracts of coaches witness accounts.
Coming soon in the videos zone.
Line Risch, coach, 11-11-11 Burundi, 2013-2015
« It's very interesting to host a JA in one's project, because one can learn from the other. »
Erasmo Otarola, coach CTB Pérou, 2011-2015
« For young professionals to achieve their goals and reach fixed results, the coach must guide them in a personal way. On the other hand, as a coach, one must progressively give them more and more responsibility. It is surprising to what extent they can successfully complete work when using this approach. »
Denis Ripoche, coach VSF Mali, 2010-2012
« The Junior Assistant provided the basis for a closer follow-up because of the time he had to do so – which we did not have – and this was really of help to us. Based on his follow-up and the weaknesses that he had identified, our organisation has redesigned the programme which now has become one of the flagship programmes in the region. »
Laurent Messiaen, coach CTB Rwanda, 2008-2016
« Our Junior Assistants often took on research and development tasks developing new tools and methods with the partner institution, which we could never have done because all workers under the programme focused – as scheduled – on the advancement of the programme and not on anything beyond what was prescribed or planned. »
The Junior Programme has noticed that more and more organisations ask for services of a Junior Assistant for their projects, and also that they increasingly recruit former Junior Assistants.
Approximately 60% of Junior Assistants further pursue a career in the development cooperation sector after their Junior Programme experience. Half of them work for an NGO. NGOs appreciate the competences and know-how that the JAs have acquired during their time in the field.
Read the complete study on former Juniors in the « Documents » part.
The Junior Programme and former Junior Assistants share job ads in the sector through their Facebook group.
So, please do not hesitate to forward any job opening from your organisation to the Junior Programme team firstname.lastname@example.org to have the network of former Juniors notified.