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Jakarta Post

‘Come home' to make change: Gojek VP sends message to Indonesian diaspora

  • Adrian Wail Akhlas

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, December 6, 2019   /   02:16 pm
‘Come home' to make change: Gojek VP sends message to Indonesian diaspora Syafri Bahar, Gojek VP of Data Science, addresses an audience during The Jakarta Post Outlook 2020 Innovating Talents for the Digital Economy at GoWork in fX Sudirman, Jakarta, on Thursday. (JP/Dionnasius Aditya)

Gojek vice president of data science Syafri Bahar has called on Indonesians overseas to return to the country, saying there is no better time than today to contribute to the country thanks to the burgeoning digital economy.

Syafri, who returned to Indonesia last year to lead Gojek’s data team – a skill valued highly in technology startups today – previously spent 10 years in the Netherlands as he considered Indonesia to be lacking in job opportunities.

As a so-called quant, or quantitative analyst, Syafri said there were limited, if not zero, openings for the type of work he aspired to take on a decade ago. Today, most problem-solving and performance-maximizing efforts at technology startups are the responsibility of data scientists.

Human resources and talent recruitment company Michael Page Indonesia released last week a report, Indonesia Salary Benchmark 2020, that found data-related work was considered a top three skill among employers in the digital and technology sectors.

"I challenge the entire [Indonesian] diaspora to come home if you want to make an impact,” Syafri said during a discussion organized by The Jakarta Post in collaboration with Gojek in Jakarta on Thursday.

“There are so many structural inefficiencies in Indonesia and by taking these out we could create big opportunities for the economy,” he said. “As the digital technology movement would enable new kind of jobs in Indonesia, it would accommodate the diaspora with a lot of work opportunities and problems to be solved."

Syafri said he was surprised by the country's growth in the digital economy, adding that the rise of Gojek and marketplace Tokopedia made him want to come home.

Outside of the digital and technology sectors, the digital economy has also created new jobs that did not exist years ago, according to a McKinsey & Company report titled Automation and the future of work in Indonesia. Conventional sectors like health care, manufacturing, consumer goods and travel also require new types of skills.

By 2030, there will be 10 million jobs in new occupations that do not exist today, the report says. A projected 27 million to 40 million new jobs will be created in the same period if Indonesians learn new skills, versus the 23 million jobs that could be displaced by automation.