The President’s Young Professionals Program (PYPP) of Liberia was launched by H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2009 and is now one of Africa’s most competitive programs for leadership in public service. The PYPP is a prestigious two-year fellowship that places recent Liberian college graduates in important government roles and provides them with a support package including training and mentorship as they support the government’s top priorities.
The PYPP's mission is currently three-fold:
- Create career and professional growth opportunities for highly qualified Liberian youth;
- Facilitate the transfer of knowledge from senior government staff to the next generation of Liberian civil service leaders;
- Strengthen the capacity of Liberia’s public sector and its youth by providing professional training, mentoring, and exposure to committed and qualified young Liberians.
The vision of the President’s Young Professionals Program (PYPP) is to prepare highly qualified Liberian youth for leadership in public service, and to equip them with tools to positively contribute to the overall development of Liberia.
Following 14 years of civil war that ended in 2003, Liberian government capacity was severely damaged leading few top graduates to seek civil service careers. Since then, Liberia has set itself on a strong growth trajectory, becoming one of the world’s fastest growing countries and showing dramatic public health improvements under the leadership of Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Sirleaf.
The PYPP is a critical piece of Liberia’s story of progress – it has increased the prestige of civil service in Liberia by creating a robust fellowship program that selects fellows through a competitive, rigorous, and transparent selection process and eliminates the granting of political favors as a pathway to enter the civil service.
The PYPP’s mark on Liberia is clear; of the 77 President’s Young Professionals (PYPs) recruited, selected, trained, and placed in the program’s first five years, 95% continue to strengthen the capacity of 15 ministries and 10 agencies in the Government of Liberia today. PYPs are accelerating a government-level shift towards the values of strong leadership, transparency, and meritocracy – all of which will strengthen the country’s public sector capacity for decades to come.
The PYPP Model
PYPs are selected through a well-defined, meritocratic process. Country-wide recruitment at universities and through radio, newspapers and social media encourages all qualified candidates to apply, without regard to gender, background, or politics. PYPP runs an objective selection process in which names are removed from applications and candidates are taken through several selection phases, each with a different and independent selection committee comprising of professionals from public, private and academia sectors.
Through a model similar to the US Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, the PYP’s two-year fellowships include the following core components:
Continuous Responsive Training: Through a two-week orientation program and then ongoing monthly workshops, PYPs are trained on a range of professional skills including computer skills, financial literacy, communication skills, and meeting facilitation. Sessions also touch on current events and global topics of relevance. The workshops also provide a space for PYPs to problem-solve with each other.
Mentorship: Each PYP is paired with an experienced mentor who provides on-the-job support and coaching. These mentors are typically top-performing senior-level ministry staff who embrace the PYPP’s values and are eager to share professional development and career advice with PYPs. PYPs also report to a designated supervisor.
Performance Management:PYPs are placed in critical roles across various ministries that expose them to significant responsibility and interactions with senior officials in order to build their confidence and strengthen their leadership skills. The PYPP maintains a performance management system to account for PYPs’ performance in the workplace.
Immersion Excursions:PYPs gain a better understanding of local governance and build camaraderie as a cohort through bi-annual excursions to rural communities, during which they interact with community and youth leaders and civil servants in local and regional governments.