Is international cooperation in crisis from the political drama that has unfolded in recent months? Not at all, and there has never really been any turmoil: the way of conducting cooperation has simply changed, and the world of humanitarianism has adapted. With less public funds allocated to the sector, the jump-start is fundraising, increased private financing, quality of work.
The result is evident to experts but not only: working in an NGO is still a dream that involves thousands of people in Italy. With at least 22 thousand people employed and, in 2018 alone, 108 organizations out of 110 that were searching for 800 figures to be included in 68 different nations (data collected by the info-co [it.it] portal), the openings are not few. How to make this dream come true? Here are the most sought after figures today.
There was a time, not too many years ago, when most of the open positions involved specific project technicians – an engineer for water management, an agronomist for land rotation, a surgeon operating in emergency contexts, for example – but now this type of position is sought only in 15% of cases. "There are two professions that in recent years have increasingly been in demand: project managers and administrative staff", explains Maria Donata Rinaldi, coordinator of the scuola Cospe for international cooperation and non-profit, which since 2005 has trained at least 230 people a year with an average age of 28 and a clear prevalence of women (seven cases out of ten). The courses range from a single 12-hour module to more complex courses up to 300 hours, and there are several lesson tools, including video contributions like this.
The ranking of info-cooperation, also confirmed by Rinaldi, speaks for itself: at the top with 38% are requests for project managers and a strong growth of up to 14% for administrative staff, in particular the role of project administrator, which supports the project manager in accounting and administrative relations with institutional and non-institutional partners.
The two increasingly sought-after professionals are project managers and administrators
Detached from the first three places but still strongly required, are the role of head of mission and the figure in charge of communication, advocacy and marketing, which are growing as much as administrator positions and are, in particular, among the most requested in Italy (a country in which 126 of the 800 total requests are concentrated). "The need to communicate is increasingly high, to explain how to work and to do fundraising well", explains Rinaldi, "especially since public aid has decreased and businesses and individuals have come closer to cooperation in a more consistent way". But also for another more recent reason: the criminalization of solidarity even by the political world, which has undermined the authority of non-governmental organizations: "It is not easy to counter these unfounded attacks but to do so it is a priority to implement a transparent, capable communication to make people understand what they are talking about and how to operate ”.
If communication and advocacy for an NGO is something that can be done by staying in Italy with trips to places of action, the project administrator is instead almost always expected to relocate. "It is a role that we need very much but it is difficult to find: it is not a project manager, rather it is closer to a pure administrator", explains Andrea Mussi, head of Formation of the NGO Coopi, which recently launched the second edition of the course of Administrator of Humanitarian Projects.
“For this job we look for people who are already experienced but also recent graduates in economic studies who are at least 22 years old. Having said that, the motivation with which a person wants to enter the humanitarian world is fundamental,” the Coopi cooperator stresses. The role of the administrator ranges from accountability to donors to the economic management of the single project, which must remain sustainable throughout its implementation.
Having defined the most sought after figures by those who offer jobs in the world of international cooperation, one last question is left: what are the nations in which more projects are active today? Africa in first place (in particular Central Africa and the Sahel area), followed by the Middle East, while Asia is stable and Latin America has seen a decrease in numbers in the recent yeas. This disengagement from one of the cradle-continents of cooperation does not come about by the will of the single NGO, rather because of decisions of the financiers who have other priorities for intervention today.
All that is left is to enter the world of cooperation and give it a try. "A good internship. Knowing languages and a lot of passion ", is the final recipe that Rinaldi at Cospe gives to every present or future aspiring international cooperator.