Irish Aid is working on a new volunteering initiative. This, though, is not for young professionals fresh out of college, according to Irish Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello.
The initiative forms part of the new Irish aid policy unveiled last week. Irish Aid will set up a database indicating placement opportunities for middle-aged, retired professionals who are mostly in their 50s and 60s. These professionals will be placed with nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies that oftentimes need volunteers with specific skills set.
The goal is twofold: to better engage the public in Ireland’s aid program, and to provide experienced professionals with opportunities to share their expertise to people in the developing world.
For instance, Irish Aid can send a retired professor to a teacher training center in Lesotho, where it works to improve the quality of education in the country.
The initiative is “very different” from other volunteering programs, such as the the U.S. Peace Corps, or the EU aid volunteers initiative announced last year by EU humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva which the Irish aid minister said is more focused on rapid response.
“We want to tap this large corps of people who are available that took early retirement in very recent years,” Costello told Devex.
Under Ireland’s program, volunteering can be in person or virtual. Irish Aid plans to make use of modern instruments, such as video conferences and social media, as well as send volunteers to block visits in partner countries, but not with the intention of displacing local employment, Costello argued.
The agency aims to get the program up and running this year. But first, the program’s structure and mode of operation will need to be finalized, something Costello said Irish Aid will work on in the “course of the next few months.”
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