Jokowi: ‘Technology demands that the world of education adapt’

In front of 3,000 teachers on Friday 5 July 2019, Jokowi announced that “technology… demands that the world of education adapt.

Indonesia is aiming to find 3.7 million new skilled workers each year to reach its target of 113 million by 2030, and digital readiness requires that both these recruits and the existing workforce have not only relevant technical skills but also human skills, such as creativity, complex problem solving, and people management – an area currently neglected.

Indonesia’s start-up scene, meanwhile, is struggling to find skilled labour at home, and the growth of Indonesia’s digital economy – estimated to become the largest in Southeast Asia by 2022 – appears to be plateauing.

Go-Jek founder Nadiem Makarim argues that digital readiness is more than a simple question of investment in technology, but more so of investment in skills and Jokowi emphasised that soft skills, on top of technical skills, are absolutely critical in the era of Industry 4.0; soft skills such as communication, creativity and emotional intelligence.

As technology continues to advance, the way we live and work will also continue to change. The World Economic Forum points out that it’s crucial the workforce adapts to meet these changing needs: “Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans.

Efforts made by Indonesia to expand its skilled workforce include:

  • The Ministry of Manpower’s recent online vocational education platform initiative, established in response to both the skills gap and the skyrocketing rates of youth unemployment. Nineteen percent of Indonesian youth aged 15 to 24 are unemployed – vastly higher than the general population’s 5 percent. This online platform aims to deliver vocational skills to young people across the archipelago, starting with Jakarta, Semarang and Lombok. Indah Anggoro Putri of the Ministry of Manpower says such programs are aimed at ‘triple-skilling’ students, incorporating both technical and soft skills, as well as the ability to be flexible and dynamic.
  • The government’s new tax deduction initiative, which aims to provide an incentive for private companies to play a role in developing and improving the quality of the workforce. In this program, companies can receive huge tax deductions, but beyond this, Ministry of Manpower’s Director General for Training and Productivity Bambang Satrio says that the initiative had been received positively because the “training is also beneficial to [companies].” In calling on the private sector to assist with expanding Indonesia’s skilled workforce, Bambang has said that “all corners of this country must fight to create skilled labour”.

Australia is uniquely placed to collaborate with Indonesia on skills training, particularly via vocational education. Closing Indonesia’s skills gap, according to investment board chief Tom Lembong, will be solved by Chinese capital combined with Australian training. And as Dr Eugene Sebastian argues, “To succeed, Indonesia will need to partner with others… now that the IA-CEPA is signed, Australia’s training sector has an opportunity to build on a small base.

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