The Italian Junior Professional Officers Programme – also known as the JPO Programme – is a multilateral development cooperation initiative sponsored by the Government of Italy and implemented by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA). It enables qualified Italian nationals holding an advanced university degree (Master’s level) who have an excellent knowledge of English and Italian and who are not more than 30 years of age (31 or 33 for graduates in medicine and surgery) to gain work experience with international organizations for a period of two years, with the possibility of a further one-year extension. A limited number of positions are assigned to candidates from eligible developing countries (Least Developed Countries and priority Countries for the Italian Development Cooperation).
The purpose of the Programme is two-fold: on the one hand, it assists international organizations in carrying out their activities by providing them with skilled personnel; on the other, it allows qualified young professionals seeking an international career to make a relevant experience that could broaden their chances of recruitment in international organizations or in the international field.
The Programme stems from a United Nations Economic and Social Council resolution adopted in 1961, which approved and encouraged the collaboration of volunteers (funded by their respective countries of origin) in development cooperation initiatives and programmes.
Italy joined this scheme in the mid-1970’s and over the years developed it into a full Programme, extending its sponsorship from the UN Secretariat and relevant Bodies to entities and specialized agencies of the UN system, as well as other international organizations with which the Italian Government entered into specific agreements. To date, Italy has sponsored more than 1,850 Junior Professional Officers. In agreement with the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) disseminates information on the Italian JPO Programme, manages the application process and performs the assessment and short-listing of candidates. Responsibility for the final selection of candidates lies with the respective UN agencies and international organizations to which the Junior Professional Officers will be assigned.