The success story is all – a funding instrument, a policy (for the implementing NGO), and personal story (from the beneficiaries’ point of view). The success story described below was funded through the Mercy Corps Simon Scott Fellowship Fund, which is a tribute to the Honourable Simon Scott, a former board member of Mercy Corps Scotland. Simon was dedicated to international relief and development, especially Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa.
Centre for Development and Support (CRP) is NGO based in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their current 15 staff members are a group of committed young professionals and enthusiasts, with respectable knowledge and skills in energy efficiency (EE), use of renewable energy sources (RES), environmental protection, climate changes and sustainable development. They believe that energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources are the best responses to environment protection, sustainable development and achievement of better quality of life. A half of their turnover comes from implementation of grant-funded projects, and another half from consultancy services in technical and organisational fields (for UNDP, GIZ GmbH, local clients). Therefore, CRP’ aim has been twofold – to rejuvenate organisation by bringing aboard new and young employees, at the same time ensuring that crucially important high quality of its activities and services will continue in the future. Both are seen as the most important element of the CRP’ long-term sustainability.
In 2016 CRP came up with the idea of setting up so-called „CRP Youth Academy“, with twofold win-win aim:
- For the young people’ perspective: To provide young people who just finished relevant faculties (civil engineering, architecture, machinery, electrical engineering, economy, journalism) with open, transparent and fair career-development opportunities directly related to their vocation – by offering them on-the-job education in EE&RES, both from the perspective of their formal education.
- From the CRP’ perspective: to have sufficient time and tangible practical indicators for recruiting best quality new young employees, based on quality of their performance as trainees /volunteers (in 1st Academy’ 9-month phase) and temporary employees (in 2nd Academy’ 6-month phase).
The main innovation element is setting-up the 15-month time-arena enabling CRP to make in-depth assessment and evaluation of job-candidates’ performance, enabling us to select the best candidates. It was not so much the initial EE&RES knowledge the candidates brought. What we valued most were determination and ability to learn, to learn fast, to work under stress, to be good and positive team member, ability to think in wider context, giving their maximum, etc. Having in mind usual context of every NGO’ work, where their sustainability primarily depends of employees’ dedication and professionalism, and of financial resources available, this is of utmost importance for CRP. From young people’ perspective, the main innovation element is the opportunity for proactive on-the-job engagement in experiential learning, making 100% of their working time in these 15 months. Also, it is combination of their independency at work, backed up with peer-support from regular CRP employees whenever necessary.
As said above, out of 10 initially selected young people, 4 left the program after a couple of months, as they were offered other jobs (in SMEs in B&H, or in Germany etc): In great extent this is due to general public perception in B&H, that NGOs do not provide secure and stable job opportunities. We decided not to replace them with other best ranked candidates, rather to extent work-contract duration with those who successfully finish 9-month volunteering period. No other difficulties were experienced. This Academy is one of our best employment projects.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources still are not part of regular curriculum of various faculties (civil engineering, architecture, machinery engineering, electrical engineering, economy, journalism, etc). In most cases, their curriculums are outdated, not following rapidly developing reality and world trends. In result, after graduating from these faculties, students have very little knowledge about EE & RES, even in the fields directly pertaining to their newly acquired educational background. On the other hand, demand for EE&RES skills among SME community in B&H is growing, both from technical and managerial points of view. This creates severe disproportion between the SME demand and availability of relevant experts. Therefore, increased knowledge and skills in various EE & RES aspects significantly increases competitiveness of young people on labour market in the country and abroad.