Employment opportunities in technical co-operation

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


In recent years there has been much criticism of Americans abroad, some of it well founded and documented, some of it largely fictitious. There is a serious need to improve our representation abroad if we are to meet our responsibilities around the world effectively, and maintain the prestige of the United States. Outstanding people must be attracted to overseas positions, and particularly, for the purposes of this study, to the field of technical cooperation. Although much still needs to be discovered about characteristics and skills which contribute to overseas effectiveness, Montana State College has defined some important elements sought in students for a graduate international technical training program. An effort is then made to strengthen understandings, attitudes, and skills in a technical field and in cross-cultural problems. Generally speaking there appears to be a large deviation from these criteria of effectiveness in selection and training programs of agencies employing technicians for work abroad. Each has its own particular method of selecting people and training them - these methods depend on the needs and experience of the organization. There is a very wide range of technical fields in which agencies operate and for which they employ people. Most of them prefer experienced, mature people rather than untested but possibly skilled younger people. The Peace Corps may provide a means of using younger people and has been generally well received by technical cooperation agencies. Aside from the Peace Corps, other voluntary positions at little or no pay, or educational exchange programs, there seems to be little opportunity for young people interested in professional technical cooperation to work for extended periods abroad. They would need to get solid experience in their fields in the U.S. to be considered for jobs with most agencies. Agencies in technical cooperation need to define more clearly the characteristics wanted in employees, may need to find apprenticeship roles for young technicians to get experience abroad, and should offer experience and advice to training institutions if they expect well-prepared personnel. Government, universities, and other interested institutions need to help create awareness of the need for better people, in overseas positions, should support research to more carefully examine what constitutes effectiveness, and may need to make a heavier financial contribution to produce desirable people. Establishment of a high-level committee or agency-may be necessary to coordinate ideas and resources to this end. The Peace Corps is probably a step in the right direction but should certainly not be considered a cure-all. Challenge, adventure, and opportunity must be available to our young people if we expect them to make their most effective contribution to a better world.




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