Development charity launches recruitment drive for engineering professors

Paul Boughton
International development charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) is launching its first ever recruitment drive for experienced professors across the engineering sectors to volunteer in Ethiopia. Successful individuals will depart this September or February 2013 with most posts being one to two years, although some shorter-term placements are also available.        
The volunteers will teach as well as train their academic peers in Ethiopia.  And they will be playing an integral part in an ambitious project to help improve the living standards of the country’s population through enhancing the engineering curriculum within their higher education system, the workforce’s skills and the nation’s industrial development.      
VSO works through volunteers helping to tackle global poverty by sharing their professional skills and changing the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The charity works in 37 countries including Ethiopia, where its operated since 1998.
It’s urging experienced professors from the disciplines of biomedical, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering in addition to lecturers in architecture, urban planning and computer science to take up their most challenging but rewarding career move yet and volunteer on this project, the ‘Engineering Capacity Building Programme’.  
Volunteers need to be experienced professors in their field with the appropriate academic qualification, teaching and industry experience.    
Brian Rockliffe (OBE), director of VSO UK and a former educationalist said: “With cut backs and job losses affecting the UK’s higher education workforce, we’re urging professionals in this sector to seriously consider taking an exciting, career enhancing and possibly life-changing break. By applying now, you could be heading off this September on your biggest career and personal challenge yet.  
“We urgently need your valuable experience and knowledge to help train your Ethiopian counterparts in universities and institutes of technology.  There’s a substantial knowledge gap in the fields of engineering to fill.  However, with your help, we can do that and ultimately increase the skills of thousands of young Ethiopians. This will equip them with the knowledge required to service the industrial needs of their country and ultimately help reduce poverty.”    
Dr James Wheeler, a software engineer from Derbyshire volunteered as an electrical-mechanical engineer with VSO in Ethiopia’s Jimma University setting up a maintenance centre. He said: “Volunteering with VSO has been one of the most profound experiences of my life so far - both personally and professionally. It was an incredible and rewarding experience being able to share my skills, help the university and really make a difference.
“I was also very taken by the country. It was totally different to what I expected with its lush green vegetation, amazing colourful birds and markets, a rich cultural heritage and curious yet friendly people.  
“For those thinking about volunteering, you should seriously think about it, speak to VSO and others who have volunteered and then go for it! It’s highly unlikely you’ll regret it. Volunteering broadens your horizons and professional outlook. It also made my CV stand out from the competition when I returned to the UK to find a new post.”           
VSO does not charge individuals to volunteer and its recruitment policy is based on matching the right professionals with the correct skills and qualities rather than on the ability to pay. Volunteers are provided with full training, flights, insurance, accommodation and a daily allowance to cover basic costs.  
There should be almost no financial outlay for the volunteer apart from providing funds for social activities, travel during time off and other personal purchases. For individuals who own a home in the UK, most rent out their property for the duration of their volunteer post.
The charity has the following free events which interested professionals can attend to find out more about volunteering on:  19th and 29th May, London.
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