|ISO – Apprenticeships as a means for lifelong learning and career advancement
The International Organization for Standardization, best known as ISO, is the biggest international standardization body in the world, with 162 national standards bodies, 3493 technical bodies and 21991 standards published, including the most disseminated standard in the world: ISO 9001 for quality management.
To coordinate all this international standardization work, the ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva counts with highly qualified Technical Project Managers and Editorial Project Managers. To qualify to these job roles, a person needs a large set of skills that go from knowledge in policy making and standardization to communication in an international environment and diplomacy, fluency in several languages and easiness with various software offline and online apps. Such a specific and diverse set of skills is not easy to find and this makes the recruitment of staff a hard task for ISO.
On the other hand, many ISO Member Bodies – the national standardization bodies – seek ISO support to train their own staff in these desired, needed and not so common skills.
In an attempt to “catch two birds with one stone”, ISO recently launched the “ISO Secondment Programme” with the objective of (amongst others) providing “opportunities for professional developing to talents in the standardization world” and developing “a new generation of standards professionals”. The way the programme will work is simple:
- Any person employed by an ISO Member Body from any country in the world can apply to a 18 to 36 months apprenticeship at the ISO Central Secretariat;
- The ISO Member Body will support all costs related with the relocation salary and taxes of the apprentice (which remains their own staff member);
- ISO will support all costs related with training, mentorship and travelling of the apprentice.
This approach is a win-win-win deal for the three parts involved – ISO Member Body, Apprentices and ISO: The ISO Member Body gets their staff trained and qualified by ISO directly; the Apprentices have access to an international experience to further develop their talent and to seek career advancement both at the national and international levels and ISO gets an opportunity to scout and test new talents before deciding to place an offer for them to become part of their staff.