The Jakarta Post
Multiple stakeholders have agreed that collaboration to provide reliable vocational training to produce a skilled workforce is needed more than ever if Indonesia wants to reach its goal of becoming a developed country with an annual income of Rp 320 million (US$21,813) per capita in 2045.
As the unemployment rate for graduates of vocational high schools is most alarming, at 8.63 percent according to Statistics Indonesia last year, sociologist from Gadjah Mada University Tadjuddin Noer Effendi cited Germany’s dual vocational education and training (DVET) system as a prime example that Indonesia should follow.
“We have a lot of training centers but how many of them are of good quality? The private sector must collaborate with the government, the university and schools, put students into training in companies under the supervision of seasoned mentors,” Tadjuddin told The Jakarta Post on Thursday during the Post’s webinar series Jakpost Upclose: “Human Capital Development and Indonesia’s 2045 vision.
Tadjuddin also stressed the importance of systematic reform in vocational training so that people with a low level of education or those who work in the informal sector could also develop skills.
An inability to properly identify training needs and a lack of information about the benefits of training, he said, were among the constraints to skills development among people with a low level of education
Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) vice chairman Anton J. Supit said that there was still reluctance or little awareness among businesspeople in the country about taking part in vocational programs.
“Not many people consider how important human capital is. They always think that training people is costly. In fact, the DVET would increase productivity and competitiveness,” said Anton, adding that Germany even included its DVET as part of its economic strategy.
Moreover, in many regions in Indonesia outside the capital Jakarta, Anton said, people were still not aware that international competitiveness among the Indonesian workforce was lacking. “Therefore, efforts and more discussion at the local government level is also needed,” he said.
Despite the current lack of competitiveness, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko told the Post in an interview broadcast on Thursday that he believed Indonesia's demographic dividend could become a strength if managed properly.
“Indonesia must become a new force in Asia. To get there, the government will create a design to manage national talent. These people are the core movers of Indonesia,” he said.
In the meantime, the government is now trying to increase productivity among the working-age population.
Also speaking in the webinar, executive director of the preemployment card program Denni Puspa Purbasari said the government’s program had so far involved 14.9 million participants, with the majority of the participants reporting skills upgrades.
“Ninety-three percent of participants say training taught them new ways or strategies for work, as well as entrepreneurship,” she said, adding that the program had been well targeted as 90 percent of participants were unemployed and 85 percent were from the 18-35 age group.
She further asserted the importance of thinking about the preemployment card as a product instead of a program. “We tend to think of a program as a government activity in spending its budget. But it’s more than that. With the preemployment card, consumers can rate training sessions and I believe continuous improvement [in training quality] will take place,” she said.
In addition to training for working age groups, children’s health is another important aspect of boosting human capital, according to Connie Ang, CEO of Danone Specialized Nutrition Indonesia.
Stunting is one of the key nutritional concerns in Indonesia, with approximately one in three children under 5 being stunted, either as a result of not getting enough food or eating too much of the wrong food.
Connie said nutrition had a significant impact on a child’s health and development, both physically and mentally, as well as on general intelligence.
“It’s very important to pay attention to not only the quantity but also the quality of food, especially during this pandemic when, because of the economic crisis, many families have started to compromise on nutrition,” she said.
The government has indeed prioritized the importance of nutritional intake in reducing the stunting rate, Moeldoko said. The prevalence of stunting in Indonesia has reduced, though it remains high, from 30.8 percent in the 2018 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) report to 27.67 percent in 2019.