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Jakarta Post

Indonesia advances pre-employment card program to tackle pandemic impacts

Indonesia advances pre-employment card program to tackle pandemic impacts Economic Challenges: Unemployed youngsters throng a recent job fair in Jakarta. The government is set to move up the disbursement of training funds for workers through the pre-employment card to late March as part of its broader efforts to cushion the economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
Adrian Wail Akhlas
Jakarta   ●   Fri, March 13, 2020 2020-03-13 10:34 425 7f440ff09e92db75a02bbad206a4a08e 1 Business pre-employment-card,COVID-19,coronavirus,laid-off-workers,skills-gap,tourism-industry,unemployment Free

The government is set to move up the disbursement of training funds for workers through the pre-employment card to late March as part of its broader efforts to cushion the economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister secretary Susiwijono Moegiarso said Thursday that Presidential Regulation No. 36/2020 issued last week would expedite the implementation of the government’s pre-employment card, which would subsidize training programs for the workforce.

“According to the President’s guide, we will issue pre-employment cards in the fourth week of March. Why? This is part of our effort to tackle the COVID-19 impacts,” Susiwijono told a media briefing.

The program will be launched in three tourism-oriented regions, namely Manado in North Sulawesi, Bali and Riau Islands, where activities have been severely affected by the drastic drop in Chinese tourists arrivals.

The program was previously slated for launch in April in Greater Jakarta.

Read also: Tax breaks, job training to combat virus impacts

The government projected economic growth in this year’s first quarter to slow to just 4.7 percent as the novel coronavirus spread was seen as weakening purchasing power and disrupting economic activity and supply chains. In 2019’s fourth quarter, gross domestic product grew 4.97 percent, the slowest in three years.

“There are many laid-off workers in those three regions [and] now they could apply for pre-employment cards to improve their competence to find new jobs,” Susiwijono said, adding that the program would not be limited to laid-off workers.

First announced during President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s reelection campaign, the pre-employment cards aim to aid job seekers and laid-off workers by granting them access and funding to a broad range of trainings. It aims to address skill shortages, which have become a real problem in the country’s workforce, as the education system has fallen short of producing graduates with the skills needed by the industry.

Read also: Skills gap: Why education alone is not enough to land you a job in Indonesia

The Automation and the Future of Work in Indonesia report, 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 government has allocated Rp 10.3 trillion (US$752.24 million) this year for the program, targeting 2 million people to join it.

Susiwijono said the government would provide Rp 500,000 (US$34.32) for each participant to cover their accommodation and transportation costs during the training program.

The government has also been seeking partnerships with education technology start-ups and e-commerce platforms, including Ruangguru and Bukalapak, to allow participants to take part in various training.

Ruangguru product chief Iman Usman said the platform would participate in the program by providing relevant training vendors in prioritized areas and learning programs.

“We will provide training for prioritized skills such as coding, marketing and hospitality,” Iman told reporters after a coordination meeting on Thursday, adding that start-ups would also help workers find jobs.

Apart from the pre-employment card program, the government has also unveiled economic stimulus to minimize the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indonesia, which include individual and corporate tax breaks, as well as the relaxation of import restrictions.

Previously, it has also introduced a Rp 10.3 trillion fiscal stimulus package to support the tourist industry and improve consumer spending to counter the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 120,000 people have contracted COVID-19 around the globe as of Thursday morning with more than 4,300 deaths. The government announced Wednesday that 34 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 in the country.