FAQs

1. About VSO

2. The application process

3. My experience and placement requirements

4. Supporting you

1. About VSO

Where does VSO work?

VSO currently works in over 30 countries in Africa and Asia. We look at each country on an individual basis and assess whether it’s practical for us to operate, how serious its skills shortages are, and whether our approach could make a significant difference. By focusing our resources, we can maximise the impact our volunteers can make at all levels, from grassroots to government.

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2. The application process

How do VSO placements work?

We place professional and skilled volunteers with local partner organisations, from grassroots groups to government ministries, to build their capacity and ability. This delivers long-term improvements and helps countries and communities to help themselves. VSO’s volunteers use their skills to improve quality and access to essential services, give people a voice and help influence governments to implement effective policies.

By building local skills and knowledge our volunteers deliver sustainable development, lasting impact and value for money.

As a VSO volunteer you’ll work directly with your local employer, reporting to a local manager and supporting your colleagues’ development. Of course, your local VSO office is always there to support you should the need arise.

What are VSO’s recruitment criteria?

There are some basic requirements you will need to fulfil in order to volunteer with VSO. You must:

  • be at least 28 years old

  • have a minimum of three years' experience in your field, gained in the last five years

  • most countries also need an official qualification (usually a degree) to secure a work permit

  • our volunteers are expected to have a good command of the English language in order to fully participate in selection, induction and wider programme activities whilst volunteering.

What is the recruitment process?

  • Placements are advertised on our website.
  • Applicants complete an online application form and attach a current CV.
  • The applications are shortlisted and we will respond within three weeks of the closing date.
  • Shortlisted applicants are invited to take part in a selection process which will include a combination of activities such as a preliminary interview and a situational judgement test or assessment centre event.
  • Following the selection process and reference checks, an offer is made to the most suitable candidate. Other candidates are notified of the outcome and any other placements that may be of interest to them.
  • The successful applicant participates in induction activities in preparation for their placement and starts to complete pre-departure checks such as medical and criminal background checks. They also complete any logistical requirements such as the visa application. 

Can I fill in the application form in a language other than English?

As English will be the working language in the volunteer placement, it is important that we are recruiting people who have a reasonable level of English. Please make sure to fill the application form in English.

Can I apply for more than one placement?

Yes, however at the point that you accept an offer of a placement you will be withdrawn from any other applications.

How long will the process take?

Once you have applied for a placement, the process will take approximately five months. This is to allow time for volunteers to complete pre-departure briefing, along with all the necessary logistics such as arranging visas, work permits and medical and criminal background checks.
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3. My experience and placement requirements

What skills do volunteers need?

We recruit experienced professionals from all over the world. Our volunteers provide our overseas partners with a wide range of skills and experience in areas such as  health, education, advocacy, business and management, community and social development, natural resources, HIV and AIDS, specific technical skills such as civil or industrial engineering, and many others.

To become a VSO volunteer, it’s vital you’re experienced in your professional field and able to train and advise colleagues in your area of expertise. You need to be prepared to work creatively, often with few resources.

Are there any age restrictions?

VSO volunteers range between 28 and 75. Suitability for the role and physical condition are more important than age. As living conditions can be basic, with hot and cold climate extremes, medical checks are required from all volunteers before going overseas.

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4. Supporting you

What expenses will I need to pay?

During your placement, we will provide:

  • an allowance paid in local currency. The allowance is designed to meet reasonable living expenses in country, and will not be enough for you to expect to send money home
  • basic accommodation. This will be shared housing with private rooms
  • transportation costs to and from your placement, including flights
  • medical insurance
  • induction and resettlement support

You will need to be able to contribute towards some of your pre-departure expenses such as travel to and from induction events and some of your pre-departure medical expenses. The overall package of financial support has been designed so that volunteers are not out of pocket through volunteering. However, you should not expect to be able to save money during your time as a volunteer or to be able to meet any other financial commitments.

Can I go home during my placement?

You are entitled to four weeks of leave every year. However, we will not cover your travel expenses so if you do decide to use this time to return home you will have to pay for the flights and transport costs yourself.

Can couples volunteer together?

We welcome applications if you are a couple wanting to volunteer together, however we respond to demand from overseas partner organisations, and many of them request only one volunteer. It is rare to receive a request for two volunteers for the same location that will match both of your skills.

Can my family come with me?

It will depend on the placement as some locations may not be suitable for a family. If your partner or children do accompany you to your placement, you will be responsible for any associated costs. This will include pre-departure checks, medical insurance, flights, any additional accommodation needs for your family, and any schooling fees in country.

Can I volunteer for longer than my original placement length?

Many volunteers stay beyond their initial placement duration. However, this will depend on the needs of the organisation and whether they need you to stay longer than planned in order to complete the job or extend its benefits and impact. The country office then evaluates the situation, and a decision is reached by consulting all parties involved.

Alternatively, you can apply for another for another placement in the same country or elsewhere

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