Job opportunities in international development

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) is an extremely active and growing Ministry of the UK government. As a consequence, there are new roles emerging on a regular basis as demand for assistance with overseas projects continues to strengthen. So, what does the DFID do and what types of employment opportunities are available?

Employment opportunities

The official DFID website states there are a range of job opportunities across the globe taking in everything from communications to social development and much more. The challenges are defined as tackling issues such as:-

  • Poverty
  • Disease
  • Mass migration
  • Insecurity
  • Conflict

The ultimate goal is to “build a safer, healthier more prosperous world” for those in the developing world as well as the UK. With an annual budget of 0.7% of UK GDP, currently equating to around £14 billion, this is a very large department of government and one which can literally change lives.

The DFID offers a professional working environment with an array of varied opportunities and benefits which include:-

Maternity leave

Maternity, adoption or shared parental leave of up to 26 weeks on full pay, followed by 13 weeks on statutory pay and the option of a further 13 weeks unpaid is available. The department also incorporates paternity leave of two weeks on full pay into the package.

Equal opportunities

As you would expect from any government department, all applications will be considered regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or general background. The long-term aim is to achieve a healthy work life balance for all employees.

Flexible working hours

The DFID offers an array of flexible working hours which include reduced hours, remote working and compressed hours. Those who are posted overseas will have a more rigid regime but there will be a degree of flexibility.

Civil service pension scheme

Those employed by the DFID will have the opportunity to become part of the civil service pension scheme which is recognised as one of the most rewarding in the world. In many ways this is recognition of the roles and challenging environment often experienced by those working for the DFID.

Annual leave

Annual leave is initially set at 25 days upon commencement of employment but will increase to 30 days after five years. There will also be public and privilege holidays on top of the annual allowance.

Working overseas

In order to obtain the best results from those posted overseas the DFID recognises the need for additional assistance. This includes a hardship allowance and all expenses paid travel back to the UK on a regular basis. There are also allowances for partners and children as recognition of the impact on family life.

Learning and development

While all employers have a legal obligation to ensure staff is trained to a sufficient level the DFID has gone above and beyond this requirement. There are extensive additional opportunities for volunteers and employees to maximise their development and contribute even more to the overall DFID program.

Unless you have looked in great detail at the opportunities available via the DFID website you may not be aware of the variation. At this moment in time the following roles are advertised:-

Human Development Programme Manager: DFID Nigeria

This is an interesting role to promote and mobilise DFID Nigeria’s new flagship education program. Commonly referred to as “Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria” it is also heavily connected to DFID Nigeria’s Health programme. This perfectly illustrates the long-term commitment that the DFID has given to Nigeria as a means of improving education and healthcare. The applicant must be “passionate and experienced” and will be expected to get involved in DFID Nigeria’s Human Development portfolio. An interesting opportunity!

Governance Adviser (National), Decentralisation and Subnational Governance: DFID Nepal

To all intents and purposes this is the role of adviser on institutions and federalism in Nepal. There will be a focus on the provincial and local government support programme which is assisting with the introduction of local political bodies. While seen by some as a challenging role, it would suit those who are creative, proactive and with a good understanding of Nepal’s unique political dynamics. The role will also see a strengthening of public institutions and government structures right across the country. Applicants will need to work with not only senior government officials in Nepal but private sector bodies, NGOs and donors.

Private Sector Development Adviser: DFID Bangladesh

The expansion of the Bangladesh private sector has come at a very interesting time with the UK set to leave the European Union and seek strong trading relations elsewhere. As part of the Growth and Private Sector Development Team the applicant will be required to deliver:-

  • Advice relating to economic growth in private sector development in Bangladesh together with current policy analysis.
  • Implementation of the economic growth plan and significant expansion of the private sector. This will take in regional and central economic programs.

The expansion of the private sector has and continues to be integral to the development of many countries around the world. As government budgets become more squeezed it is vital that private sector finance is sought and secured to nurture long-term economic growth.

Health Adviser: DFID Pakistan

The appointment of a health adviser to the DFID Pakistan health programme is a challenging but rewarding role. Applicants must have a track record of delivering healthcare changes in complex and fragile environments. Experience with regards to management, finance and accountability constraints will be vital. The applicants required characteristics are described as dynamic, resilient, a strong team player, excellent networking skills, ability to negotiate and influencing skills. This is a long-term role with the aim of significantly improving the health care system in many of Pakistan’s more remote areas.

A raft of opportunities

The above roles perfectly reflect the wide variation in DFID projects, skills and even areas of the world in which to work. The ability to literally change lives has not been lost on those with the relevant experience as well as graduates aspiring for more demanding roles in the future. The DFID website is a very useful source of information. It also promotes the latest roles available across the departments many worldwide projects.