‘We see young people as the future decision makers of our partner utilities.’
Interview Adriaan Mels, Regional Director VEI Dutch Water Operators, WaterWorX Coordinator, and trainer at YEP Programmes and Marjon Reiziger, Programme Manager Young Expert Programmes.
Partnerships are crucial to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: access to water and sanitation for all. WaterWorX (WWX) is a partnership of public water operators to increase access to sustainable waterservices for 10 million people between 2017-2030. Since the start of WaterWorX in 2017, they developed a tailor-made training programme together with Young Expert Programmes (YEP Tailor-made). So far, WaterWorX and YEP Programmes have engaged 43 local Young Experts in its Water Operator Partnerships (WOP). Before that, Adriaan Mels and Marjon Reiziger already worked together for training and coaching of Young Experts within the regular YEP programme.
WaterWorX aims to transfer expertise and skills of the Dutch water companies to utilities in the global south. By working together in Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs) and facilitate the active transfer of knowledge and experience, utilities can improve their processes. Adriaan: ‘Training and coaching can be seen as the ‘heart’ of our work and a key condition for improvement of the performance of water utilities. We are big fans of YEP Programmes because we see young people as the future decision makers of our partner utilities’.
Most of the Young Experts are employed by the partner utilities and receive training and coaching by YEP Programmes. ‘Young Experts are curious and eager to learn, they are ambitious and flexible. They like the combination of personal development, offered by YEP Programmes, and the opportunity to develop their professional skills as part of the engagement with Dutch water experts and the work within the WOPs. Many of them have also developed a network with other Young Experts within the WaterWorX programme and use it to share experience and ideas’, Marjon says.
Adriaan: ‘We see the Young Experts making career steps within the partner utilities as a result of their YEP training. The biggest contribution of YEP is related to their personal development: they are more self-aware, have a better understanding of what they want for their career, have developed their presentation and networking skills and dare to ask questions’. This might be the reasons most of the Young Experts continue their career in the partner utilities after the end of their programme.
Together, Marjon and Adriaan also offer the Young Experts a masterclass in Change Management. ‘In general, I see that Young Experts are often engaged in projects that aim for change. However, there is a lack of awareness and knowledge in this field. That is how we jointly started this masterclass. It has been running now for 7-8 years and we always receive enthusiastic responses from the participants. I like the interaction with the participants and enjoy reading their case studies, their challenges and the creativity to overcome them’, Adriaan says.
WWX Tailor-made batches
The first WaterWorX batch (Tm1) together with YEP Programmes has come to an end. A new batch (Tm2) has already been set up. Marjon: In Tm2 we train another batch of new Young Experts and support them in the growth of their career in the WWX partner utilities. We are currently localising a part of its training support in the regions and intend to work more and more with regional training companies. In addition, we are aiming at providing new training and coaching support by alumni Young Experts from the region. Alumni Young Experts are also involved in giving masterclasses online and are trained as coaches’. The actual YEP training programme is based on blended learning: online learning, live training sessions and intervision weekends in the regions and countries. A strong YEP Global network is created and consists already of more than 580 Young Experts in which the WWX Young Experts fully participate.
YEP Tailormade: On demand in the world
YEP Tailor-made offers organisations the opportunity to buy-in YEP’s unique training and coaching programme. YEP Tailor-made positions can be plugged into regular YEP batches, but when the demand is for a large number of positions, a separate batch can be set up with a tailor-made training programme.
The YEP training programme is based on the YEP philosophy, emphasising on both individual and collective development, which is applied in mixed training groups of Young Experts from different sectors. Networking and innovation play an important role during the training sessions. Young Experts within the YEP Tailor-made programme participate in all activities of the YEP Global Network. In addition, all Young Experts in YEP Tailor-made are also coached by the professional YEP coaches.
YEP Tailor-made is a financially independent part of YEP Programmes; it is administered and managed separately by the YEP Programme Bureau. The participating parties do not receive the financial support; they purchase the training and coaching with their own means. This is suitable, for example, for organisations and programmes that are already funded by the Dutch government.