Meeting the Needs of the Fu­ture Labour Mar­ket with IEP

Indonesia Expat - - Content Page - BY ROGIER SCHULTZ

Not only ex­pat direc­tors of com­pa­nies in In­done­sia know that find­ing qual­i­fied hu­man ca­pac­ity is chal­leng­ing – es­pe­cially for skilled po­si­tions and mid­dle man­age­ment jobs – but the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment and Pres­i­dent Joko ‘Jokowi’ Wi­dodo pub­licly rec­og­nize that for In­done­sia to con­tinue to grow eco­nom­i­cally, they need to bring in­ter­na­tional qual­ity skills and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment to their peo­ple.

The lack of qual­i­fied hu­man ca­pac­ity in skilled and man­age­ment po­si­tions, in ad­di­tion to a lack of trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture and in­con­sis­tent rule of law, is sig­nif­i­cantly hold­ing back this na­tion from reach­ing its cur­rent eco­nomic potential. The Labour Di­vi­sion of the In­done­sian Em­ploy­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (APINDO) stated last De­cem­ber that the cre­ation of 3 mil­lion new jobs per year is nec­es­sary for In­done­sia to main­tain its cur­rent un­em­ploy­ment rate, but ef­forts to build skills of the labour force are fac­ing chal­lenges and In­done­sia has fallen a mil­lion jobs short of this tar­get.

To start to fill in this widen­ing gap, es­pe­cially in the face of the new ASEAN Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­ment en­abling skilled work­ers from other na­tions to com­pete for In­done­sia’s best jobs, Pres­i­dent Jokowi has put high pres­sure this year on mul­ti­ple min­istries to col­lab­o­rate in de­vel­op­ing skills ap­pro­pri­ate for In­done­sia’s cur­rent job de­mands and be­gin to ad­dress gaps in the newly grow­ing in­dus­tries. The Min­istries of Manpower, In­dus­tries, Ed­u­ca­tion and Cul­ture, and Re­search, Tech­nol­ogy & Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, as well as the na­tional pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion bureau and other agen­cies have been strug­gling to work to­gether to put for­ward plans to ad­dress the chasm be­tween what is taught in vo­ca­tional schools and uni­ver­si­ties and what is needed to fuel the in­dus­tries and eco­nomic growth.

Iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cial­ized train­ing part­ners who can teach In­done­sia’s vo­ca­tional teach­ers and university lec­tur­ers the spe­cial­ized in­ter­na­tional qual­ity skills is a chal­lenge at best where the most im­por­tant skills don’t ex­ist yet in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

Ex­pat Brook Wil­liams Ross has stepped into this need to­gether with the team he has cre­ated in In­done­sia Ed­u­ca­tion Part­ner­ships, a not-for-profit con­sul­tancy work­ing to help de­velop In­done­sia’s econ­omy through ed­u­ca­tion.

No stranger to de­vel­op­ing func­tion­ing and ef­fec­tive part­ner­ships un­der pres­sure and in chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments, Ross first worked in de­vel­op­ing strate­gic part­ner­ships for hu­man ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment un­der the Amer­i­can Red Cross fol­low­ing the 2004 Aceh tsunami. The train­ing needs in Aceh at that time were daunt­ing; the ma­jor­ity of skilled work­ers in many vil­lages and towns were killed, in­clud­ing nurses, doctors, teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors and mar­ket man­agers among oth­ers.

After three years in Aceh, Ross piv­oted to the na­tional scale by con­sult­ing for the US Em­bassy Jakarta to restart US-In­done­sia higher ed­u­ca­tion part­ner­ships im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 2008 elec­tion. Since then, Ross has con­tin­ued to uti­lize his net­work to as­sist gov­ern­ments across the ar­chi­pel­ago with their spe­cial­ized hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment needs.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, he says, “I've hosted about 145 dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges and poly­tech­nics in In­done­sia to en­gage on de­vel­op­ment strat­egy with na­tional min­istries and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments.” While he mainly en­gages with in­sti­tu­tions from the English speak­ing world, pri­mar­ily Amer­i­can, New Zealand and UK in­sti­tu­tions, In­done­sia Ed­u­ca­tion Part­ner­ships has worked with in­sti­tu­tions from many na­tions.

“Our pur­pose is to meet the ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment needs of the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment, boost their suc­cess in help­ing their peo­ple,” says Ross, "so we look for any in­sti­tu­tion that has the right qual­ity of train­ing and ex­per­tise needed, wants to be a strong part­ner de­liv­er­ing pro­grams here in In­done­sia, and can lower their costs to work with the bud­get avail­able, which often can mean cost shar­ing or pro bono de­pend­ing on the project.”

Ross and his team also help gov­ern­ments and university part­ners iden­tify fund­ing sources or cre­ate schol­ar­ship pro­grams to be able to im­ple­ment the pro­grams and reach de­vel­op­ment goals.

Ross and In­done­sia Ed­u­ca­tion Part­ner­ships have worked in al­most every prov­ince of In­done­sia, as well as with a dozen of the pri­mary min­istries in Jakarta.

“Per­haps Pa­pua is the most chal­leng­ing and the most re­ward­ing, as their needs are the great­est and they have the fur­thest to go,” says Ross. “We are cur­rently work­ing with the Pa­pua gov­ern­ment and gov­er­nor’s of­fice in English train­ing so their peo­ple can ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally. This year for the first time have a group of Pa­puan stu­dents go­ing for Masters in crit­i­cal skill ar­eas go­ing to university in the UK, US,

and New Zealand. I expect them to join the gov­ern­ment and be part of the so­lu­tion when they re­turn, us­ing what they learned to help fur­ther de­velop the Pa­puan peo­ple."

Most of their work is with the In­done­sian cen­tral gov­ern­ment, but Ross has a sweet spot for where he started.

“I still love work­ing with Aceh, and we have three pro­grams there with part­ners to de­velop ca­pac­ity of vo­ca­tional teach­ers, sup­port marine spa­tial plan­ning of the gov­ern­ment, and de­velop avi­a­tion main­te­nance skills, all with spe­cial­ized in­ter­na­tional part­ner uni­ver­si­ties who also love work­ing on the ground here with the Acehnese peo­ple.”

Their fo­cus is how they can bring the skills train­ings the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment needs es­pe­cially when there are cer­tain train­ings that aren’t locally avail­able or ac­ces­si­ble from else­where in In­done­sia. “South Su­lawesi Gov­er­nor Alex Nur­din said it best to me: Of my five key skill de­vel­op­ment needs, my lo­cal university can take care of three – so I need you to bring me help for the other two.”

Ross and In­done­sian Ed­u­ca­tion Part­ner­ships are up for the chal­lenge.

But it’s not all cut and dry, as noth­ing ever re­ally is in In­done­sia, and rub­ber time still ex­ists the fur­ther you go in the ar­chi­pel­ago.

Ross quips, “you burn a lot of time in de­vel­op­ing these re­la­tion­ships – years, re­ally! That’s what it takes while you keep showing up and de­liv­er­ing on the goods. Even­tu­ally the trust is built with the gov­ern­ment to start the pro­grams, but hope­fully not after the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials reshuf­fle and you need to start over!”

“We are cur­rently work­ing with the Pa­pua gov­ern­ment and gov­er­nor’s of­fice in English train­ing so their peo­ple can ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

BROOK ROSS

ACEH PAR­LIA­MENT MEM­BERS AND IN­DONE­SIAN AM­BAS­SADOR TO THE US (CEN­TER)

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