About UNICEF: Employment

Junior Professional Officer Programme

The Junior Professional Officers (JPO) Programme offers young professionals interested in pursuing a career in development an exceptional opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in multilateral technical cooperation.

Just as the programme provides JPOs with a unique professional and personal experience, it also brings fresh energy and ideas to the organization. The programme helps UNICEF identify individuals who could become staff members and make important contributions to UNICEF’s future and its work on behalf of children. Nearly 50 per cent of JPOs continue in UNICEF as regular staff at the end of their JPO assignment. Some 900 JPOs have served in the organization since the beginning of the programme in 1967.

JPOs are typically between 28 and 35 years of age and are recruited as professional staff members, at P-1 or P-2 entry level. While most JPOs are citizens of our donor countries, Belgium and the Netherlands may also sponsor citizens of other European Union member states as well as nationals of programme countries with which their respective governments have bilateral development cooperation relations.

History of the JPO programme

The Junior Professional Officers (JPO) programme evolved from the United Nations’ Associate Experts (AE) programme, which was initiated in 1954 by the Government of the Netherlands as a way to provide additional staff to the Food and Agriculture Organization as well as on-the-job training for young graduates interested in international development.

Encouraged by the success of this collaboration, other UN agencies and donor countries expressed their interest in similar schemes, and a UN system-wide concept was established under ECOSOC resolution 849 (XXXII) of 4 August 1961.

The JPO programme at UNICEF was established in 1967 and has grown steadily since its inception; the agency currently manages an average of 100 JPOs every year. JPO posts in UNICEF are spread across all the regions and Headquarters locations.

JPO Programme introduction video



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