The Jakarta Post
Millions of jobseekers in Java will get subsidized training funds in April through the government’s much-vaunted pre-employment card, after a brief delay.
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko expressed hope on Tuesday that the government will issue the Presidential regulation for the scheme by February, finalize preparations in March and start the program in April. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo initially aimed for a January launch.
West Java, Jakarta and its satellite cities will be among the first cities that will form the program’s pilot project. Authorities will then evaluate the results, make improvements and expand “massively” to other cities, Moeldoko explained.
“In 2021, we aim for more than 2 million people to join the program. The President has stated that if this runs well, we could beef the program up to twice as much or even more,” Moeldoko told reporters.
First announced during Jokowi’s reelection campaign, pre-employment cards aim to aid job seekers by granting them access to training, a move that hopes to help address the nationwide shortage of skilled workers. The government has allocated Rp 10.3 trillion (US$752.24 million) for the program this year.
“Automation and the Future of Work in Indonesia”, released in September by management consultancy McKinsey & Company, projects that 23 million jobs could be displaced by automation by 2030, but 27 million to 46 million new jobs could be created during the same period.
The Presidential Office (KSP) special economic policy advisor, Denni Puspa Purbasari, elaborated on Tuesday that the sophisticated back-end programming for the program’s digital platform and lengthy financial administrative processes have caused the delay.
However, she said that both the Presidential regulation and the Coordinating Economic Affairs Ministry Regulation were nearly complete. KSP is currently giving its last feedback on some articles in the provisions, she said.
“It will be like Go-Food where the ‘food’ will be the training institutions laid out in a single platform, so that users can easily compare their prices, location, packages and ratings,” said Denni, referring to technology company GoJek’s food delivery service.
The pre-employment card program is aimed at addressing skill shortages, which have become a real problem in the country’s workforce makeup, as the education system has failed to produce graduates with the skills needed by industry.
Unemployment rates of graduates of vocational high schools, that are meant to train students for specific jobs, are most alarming, standing at 8.63 percent of the workforce in February 2019, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data.
The government has also been seeking partnerships with financial technology (fintech), banks and start-ups to digitize its subsidy for jobseeker training. This would help with cash transfers and other funding issues.
However, critics and industry players have raised questions about the effectiveness of the cards in narrowing the country’s deep-rooted skills gap, as the education system remains a big problem when it comes to addressing the skills shortage, while budget shortages and weak unemployment data would hamper the pre-employment card’s implementation.
Former finance minister Chatib Basri also warned the government to avoid overselling the program in order to avoid failure where “expectations are higher than the results”.
“We must tone down expectations. There will be glitches in the process but that’s normal if we have realistic expectations,” Chatib said.