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The State of Humanitarian Professions (SOHP) 2020

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22 March 2021

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The State of Humanitarian Professions (SOHP) 2020

This report presents the findings of a study, undertaken by Bioforce, to describe the “State of Humanitarian Professions” (SOHP) in 2020.

The study recognised 24 profession areas and, through consultation with humanitarian professionals, documented the key characteristics and changing nature of each. The study examined the extent to which each work area was considered a profession and whether it demonstrated indicators of professionalisation. In addition, the study captured the views of humanitarians on the competencies required for humanitarians operating in their profession area and which of those competencies, if any, distinguished it from equivalent non-humanitarian work. See Part 3 of the report.

As well as results for each profession area, this report presents findings gathered from across all 24 profession areas. This broad analysis also covers the extent to which humanitarians identify with a single profession, and how different profession areas have professionalised. It attempts to identify distinguishable humanitarian competencies that apply across all humanitarian work. In addition, the analysis attempts to identify common changes in humanitarians’ jobs, as well as trends in recruitment, professional development and career progression. See Part 2 of the report.

In keeping with the consultative nature of the study, recommendations were generated by humanitarians who attended the SOHP Conference. See Part 4 of the report.

The objective of the SOHP study is to support individuals and organisations to drive professionalisation and continuous improvement in humanitarian action. The study aims to meet this objective by gathering useful, up-to-date information on humanitarian professions and sharing it with individuals and organisations involved in humanitarian work, as well as organisations that support humanitarians to learn and improve.


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