The Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, which oversees the activities of all the conference management services across the United Nations Secretariat, launched its outreach programme in 2007 as a means to overcome succession-planning challenges.
The outreach programme is directed towards universities and other institutions involved in the training of language professionals and seeks to:
- Raise the profile of language careers at the United Nations;
- Help candidates to perform better in recruitment examinations (competitive examinations for language positions), while maintaining the highest quality standards. This is made possible by:
- Helping candidates to prepare effectively for the competitive examinations for language positions;
- Developing cooperation between the Department, training institutions and other bodies to match candidates' skills more closely to the Organization’s requirements.
Outreach activities include visits to partner institutions by United Nations language staff, who give presentations and master-classes or participate in seminars and workshops. They also include meetings with students and faculty to present the work of United Nations language staff, give more details about the skills required, or provide guidance to teaching staff for classroom activities that would help prepare candidates for the competitive examinations for language positions.
In addition, remote coaching and in-house training have been arranged for some students from partner universities. Some universities have also occasionally invited United Nations language staff to sit on their examination panels.
Another method of outreach is the language internship programme.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) network
One key feature of the outreach programme is the network of universities that have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Nations (referred to as the MoU network) for the training of language professionals for the competitive examinations for language positions. The network meets periodically through the MoU Conferences to exchange ideas and best practices.