Ashley Inselman is a Global Humanitarian Surge Capacity Development Adviser at World Vision International, where she has worked for 19 years. Across a network of around 100 offices, Ashley’s role is to identify and develop people for the organisation’s surge team, for deployment when a crisis hits.
She works with the offices to look for people who show promise, are able to remain calm and have an aptitude for problem-solving and multi-tasking, who can be trained to put aside their day jobs at a moment’s notice, and instantly become part of a humanitarian response team.
Many are technical experts in areas such as Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), child protection, and Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL).
In this interview, we asked Ashley about her experiences of piloting HPass, a new online platform dedicated to professional development in the humanitarian sector. HPass offers humanitarians the ability to demonstrate their skills and experience through digital badges, giving at-a-glance evidence of their qualifications. Organisations such as World Vision International are able to create and issue badges to their staff and volunteers, in recognition that they have completed specific courses or assessments, providing motivation and structure for learning and professional development.
Can you tell us a bit about how World Vision is using HPass?
Across our network of around 100 offices, we have a growing ‘surge’ team, able to set aside their day jobs and become part of an emergency team at a moment’s notice. This team is vital to enable us to respond to emergencies, whether in their own country, region, or to participate in what we call a Category 3 response. For example, a large number of them were called on to respond to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. Within two weeks of the cyclone hitting in March 2019 we had a huge number of people deployed from across the world.
When developing the badge, our aim was not to reinvent the wheel. Only six hours of training content is specific to World Vision International – for example helping a staff member understand how a World Vision office will transform from business as usual to a disaster management hub. The rest is from external providers, including e-learning related to Sphere and the Core Humanitarian Standard among others.
We develop this team from across our network, and need to ensure that everyone is ‘deployment-ready’. Using HPass, we created the Disaster Management Foundations badge, which is the first step on their journey. Having completed an initial in-person induction, a staff member’s next step to becoming a deployable surge team member is to complete over thirty hours of online training and earn the badge.
Has World Vision used digital badging before?
In our case digital badging was not a new concept – we have been using it internally for 7-8 years. However, HPass offers the opportunity for our staff to be recognised outside of their own system, and we feel they should be celebrated for completing thirty hours of work! Also, for humanitarian staff, who truly aspire to be humanitarians, most contracts will be short-lived and they will move around between organisations. If World Vision has awarded a badge it will be helpful for other organisations to be able to recognise the content of it as building the Core Humanitarian Competencies generally.
From your perspective, what does digital badging offer to humanitarians?
I was speaking to an experienced staff member in Afghanistan the other day, who was really excited about the prospect of a digital badge, as his first opportunity to receive formal recognition of his skills. In some of the places where we operate, staff and volunteers have had no opportunity to complete a university education but have a huge amount of professional experience which deserves to be recognised. Those are the places where digital badging has most to offer.
What does digital badging offer to an organisation like World Vision?
It’s a really great motivating factor for our staff; to celebrate their achievements. They can put it on their performance appraisals and gain a sense of progression. World Vision has recently moved to competency-based hiring and career pathing, and digital badging makes the process more accessible and transparent.
Digital badges are also a lot better than certificates which you have to print! They are more straightforward and give people a way to get excited about completing e-learning courses through our learning platform.
How does World Vision plan to use HPass in future?
Each year, around 200 people from across our network will earn the Disaster Management Foundations badge. Most of these will be taking their first step towards joining the surge team, others will take it as context if they need to travel to crisis-affected areas.
Finally, what are the benefits to the sector of an increased focus on humanitarian professional development and learning?
The core humanitarian competencies need to be taken seriously and it’s important that we as a sector hold ourselves to high standards. Professional development and learning provide a pathway to enable people to reach those high standards and ultimately deliver better humanitarian responses.
HPass is a collaborative initiative incubated by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy on behalf of a wider group of organisations. Steering Committee members are Bioforce Institute, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Humanitarian Leadership Academy, Humanitarian Logistics Association, International Federation of the Red Cross, Pearson, Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance & Protection, and RedR UK.