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Senior Programme and Operations Officer, BETTER WORK


Grade: P4  

Vacancy no.: DC/COLOMBO/P/2021/01
Publication date: 12 July 2021
Application deadline (midnight Bangkok time): 26 July 2021


Job ID: 6362 
Department: RO-Asia and the Pacific 
Organization Unit: CO-Colombo 
Location: Colombo   
Contract type: Fixed Term 

Contract duration: One year (with possibility of renewal) 


Under article 4.2, paragraph (e) of the Staff Regulations, the filling of vacancies in technical cooperation projects does not fall under Annex I of the Staff Regulations and is made by direct selection by the Director-General.


In order to support the best informed process in the filling of the present vacancy by direct selection, the ILO invites interested candidates to submit their candidature online by the above date.


Technical cooperation appointments are not expected to lead to a career in the ILO and they do not carry any expectation of renewal or conversion to any other type of appointment in the Organization. A one-year fixed-term contract will be given. Extensions of technical cooperation contracts are subject to various elements including the following: availability of funds, continuing need of the functions and satisfactory conduct and performance.


The following are eligible to apply:

  • ILO Internal candidates in accordance with paragraphs 31 and 32 of Annex I of the Staff Regulations.
  • External candidates.


The ILO values diversity among its staff and welcomes applications from qualified female candidates. We also encourage applicants with disabilities. If you are unable to complete our online application form due to a disability, please send an email to


About Better Work
We mobilize global brands, governments, factory owners and workers to improve working conditions, drive competitiveness and create a more equitable, more prosperous world.


The Power of Convening
As a partnership between the UN’s International Labour Organization and the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, we know how to bring diverse groups together to create positive action that improves working conditions while stimulating productivity and competitiveness.


A Proven Approach
We create lasting, measurable change by empowering factories to improve the working conditions in their facilities. Our assessments are the global gold standard for rigour and integrity. Our training programs and advisory services change attitudes as well as behaviours.


National Action/ Global Influence
Through our comprehensive, university-led research, and by sharing best practices from our on-the-ground experience, we are able to shape the agenda well beyond the countries in which we work, influencing governments, brands and policy makers to make improving working conditions a top priority.


Our work and our research have demonstrated – to employers, unions, global brands and governments – that improving working conditions and defending the rights of workers benefits all of us. We have improved the lives of more than 3 million workers, and millions more family members, while enhancing the profitability of their employers. There is no trade-off between better work and better business.


Better Work, with the support of funding from the Levi Strauss Foundation, and in collaboration with ILO Colombo Office, is in the process of implementing a Better Work Academy training course for one of LSF’s key manufacturing partners to improve their expertise in international labour standards and to develop practical approaches to help workers and managers identify and tackle workplace challenges.  

The EC have now agreed to fund additional work which will build on this approach by enabling the development of a sustainable management system/culture within factories that will enable them to recognize and tackle compliance issues themselves.  In line with the priorities identified in the Sri Lanka Decent Work Country Programme, this will be done by adopting a thematic capacity building approach that caters to the identified industry needs. The funding will also be used to support national constituents to address dynamics within the garment industry, focusing on how to promote more effective partnerships and sound industrial relations and how to work together collaboratively to ensure decent working conditions for all actors in the country’s apparel industry

For more information about Better Work please see


The incumbent will manage all aspects of the Better Work intervention in Sri Lanka as part of the global Better Work programme and within the policy and procedural requirements established by the global programme and the ILO.


Under the direction of the Better Work Programme Director, the Senior Programme and Operations Officer reports to the Head of Programme Expansion, Learning and Country Programmes, based in Geneva, for Better Work-related activities. The Senior Programme and Operations Officer will remain under the direct supervision of the Country Director of the ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives with respect to political and administrative matters.

Description of Duties

1.    Lead the effective implementation and technical oversight of all project components including, where relevant, enterprise level engagement, stakeholder engagement and policy influencing work.  Ensure a high degree of programme transparency, accountability and credibility, both internally and externally, in accordance with ILO’s policies, procedures and values. 
2.     Support the ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives in meeting expectations of national and global stakeholders within the overall context of the UN Sustainable Development Framework for Sri Lanka and the priorities defined in the Sri Lanka Decent Work Country Programme, but with a particular focus on improving working conditions and workers’ rights in the garment industry in Sri Lanka.
3.    Oversee capacity-building efforts of national partners to ensure compliance with international labour standards and national laws. This will entail ensuring strong collaboration with related and complementary activities of the ILO, IFC and other institutions.
4.    Effectively manage the project team including national staff and consultants as appropriate, mainstreaming gender equality and the principles of equal opportunity, staff development and performance management. Focus on the creation of a positive working culture that promotes excellence and accountability for results as well as a respectful and supportive workplace environment that encourages teamwork and personal growth. 
5.    In accordance with donor agreements, take responsibility for budget management, in collaboration with the ILO Country Office and in compliance with the ILO financial rules and regulations.
6.    With the support of BW Global, oversee the development of robust internal systems to support quality delivery of services including the collection, management and analysis of data as appropriate in order to inform monitoring, evaluation, quality control and operational efficiency as well as to support the programme’s policy and research portfolio and support buyer relationships.      Manage the implementation in Sri Lanka of the global monitoring and evaluation strategy, and support further research and analysis as required.  

optional section (if needed)

7.    Ensure active engagement with the tripartite country Project Advisory Committee (PAC), including providing secretariat and technical support to the PAC and the management and facilitation of stakeholder meetings.
8.    Mobilize resources to support the BW project in Sri Lanka and maintain strong relationships with the multi-lateral and bilateral donor community for resource mobilization, project development and effective management of donor funds. In particular develop and maintain strong working relationships with the Sri Lanka based EC delegation.
9.    Ensure high-level communications to increase the profile of the Better Work intervention in Sri Lanka with national stakeholders, international buyers and manufacturers’   stakeholders, policy makers and the media as well as within the ILO and IFC. This includes representing the project at national, regional and international levels.  Lead on the project’s convening and facilitating role to address industry wide issues, including those related to competitiveness as well as workers’ rights and safety issues, through multi-stakeholder dialogues and partnerships.
10.    Develop and maintain strong links with the ILO Geneva Global Supply Chain Task Team Secretariat, ILO Regional Office, and ensure linkages with the Decent Work programme specialists and different projects and components of the ILO. 
11.    Actively collaborate with other Better Work country programme managers to contribute, and to support the development and implementation of the global Better Work programme, including its policies, tools and strategies and help to ensure consistency in and effective delivery of Better Work country programmes. 

Required qualifications


Advanced university degree with demonstrated experience in international development, social sciences or other relevant field.


At least seven years of professional experience in the areas of social dialogue, working with the private sector in developing countries, capacity building, corporate social responsibility (particularly in the field of labour standards compliance), programme management or related fields in a senior level position, at least three years of which has been at the international level.  Experience of working with business is essential and experience of working with the garment sector is highly desirable.  Relevant experience working in South Asia, specifically Sri Lanka, would be an advantage. 


Excellent command of English. Knowledge of another ILO official language or other local languages will be an advantage. 


1.    Excellent administrative, financial, project and human resource managerial skills;
2.    Proven leadership ability to coach, motivate and train staff and\or consultants for continuous improvement of performance and transform team performance and commitment;
3.    Experience in managing change processes and capacity building, particularly within a developing country context, including ability to build partnerships between stakeholders to influence policy making for increased impact;
4.    High level technical knowledge of corporate social responsibility issues, such as compliance needs assessments, remediation, capacity building and training, including a proven capacity to liaise with international buyers;
5.    Experience in private sector development, preferably in the apparel sector, including a good understanding of the functioning of the global apparel value chain and Sri Lanka’s competitive position within the global value chains;
6.    Demonstrated ability to define and resolve problems in a manner that reflects the interests of stakeholders in technical assistance projects and activities, the cultural situation in Sri Lanka, the ILO's commitment to fundamental principles and rights, social dialogue and tripartism and the IFC's mission of supporting sustainable private sector development;
7.    Good understanding of the key tenets and dynamics of industrial relations in Sri Lanka as well as a foundational understanding of industrial relations at the global level in the garment industry;
8.    High level of understanding of gender equality, gender mainstreaming and equal opportunity principles and approaches. Experience in mainstreaming gender and promoting inclusive and diverse workplaces in a project and among staff.  Experience working in industries with high levels of migrant workers an advantage;
9.    Excellent analytical skills including demonstrated ability to devise socio-economic research and analysis and translate research results into practical policy directions and reports;
10.    Ability to provide authoritative policy and technical advice and guidance; 
11.    High level communications skills, both oral and written including capacity to represent the organization, work with the media, and operate in a multi-cultural environment;
12.     The ability to work in a multicultural environment and to demonstrate gender-sensitive and non-discriminatory behaviour and attitudes.


Additional Information

Applicants can only attach 1 document to their application. This should include a cover letter, and must also include a 2-page statement addressing their claims against the required competencies. In doing this you should have a heading for each competency and explain in 2 -3 paragraphs to the selection committee how your skills and experience show that you meet this. Applicants who do not attach this statement will not be considered for interview.


Conditions of employment

  • Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to ILO Staff Regulations and other relevant internal rules. Any offer of employment with the ILO is conditional upon certification by the ILO Medical Adviser that the person concerned is medically fit to perform the specific inherent requirements of the position offered. In order to confirm an offer from the ILO the successful candidate will be required to undergo a medical examination.
  • Any extension of technical cooperation contracts are subject to various elements including the following: availability of funds, continuing need of the functions and satisfactory conduct and performance.

For more information on conditions of employment, please visit:


Recruitment process

Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application form. To apply, please visit ILO Jobs. The system provides instructions for online application procedures.

Applicants will be contacted directly if selected for a written test and/or an interview.

Depending on the location and availability of candidates, assessors and interview panel members, the ILO may use communication technologies such as Skype, Video or teleconference, e-mail, etc for the assessment and evaluation of candidates at the different stages of the recruitment process, including technical tests or interviews.


Fraud warning

The ILO does not charge any fee at any stage of the recruitment process whether at the application, interview, processing or training stage. Messages originating from a non ILO e-mail account - - should be disregarded. In addition, the ILO does not require or need to know any information relating to the bank account details of applicants.