Sinar Mas Land connects RI talent pool with tech firms through Digital Hub
The Indonesian education system has a lot of work to do to catch up with other countries around the world.
Its vocational training institutions are in a particularly bad state. According to the country’s Technology, Research and Higher Education Minister, Mohamad Nasir, students in vocational higher educational institutions in Indonesia only constitute 5.6 percent of the total number of students in higher educational institutions.
This percentage is a far cry compared to other countries in the world. In Austria, for instance, nearly 80 percent of students there take up vocational education and training ( VET) upon graduating from school. Similar numbers can be seen even in neighboring countries like Singapore and Taiwan, with 50 to 70 percent of graduates there ready to immediately take up a vocational course.
The government has made strides to improve the nation’s VET sector. In late November 2016 alone, five ministries joined forces to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on vocational education reform. The Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry also plans to revitalize VET in a dozen universities across the country this year.
However, the government cannot do it alone. It needs the help of all domestic stakeholders to help improve education in Indonesia so that its graduates can compete globally and meet the challenges of economic development.
Indonesia’s leading property developer Sinar Mas Land is doing just that with its ongoing up to Rp 7 trillion Integrated Smart Digital City project in Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD), Banten.
THE INDONESIAN SILICON VALLEY
The goal of this 25.86-hectare city, which is set to be completed within the next 10 to 15 years, is to create an environment that can facilitate the establishment of local start-ups and provide a home for young people and technology leaders to develop these businesses. It essentially wants to become the Indonesian version of Silicon Valley.
“The role of Sinar Mas Land is to create a city that can be the outer shell, the container and the provider of reliable infrastructure that Millenials can use to develop their ideas,” Sinar Mas Land managing director president office Dhony Rahajoe said.
As the city’s description implies, it is an “Integrated Smart Digital City” – the very first of its kind in the country – that has designed its entire ecosystem to promote the digital economy. It has invited leaders in IT and tech companies to open offices there. These include MyRepublic, Huawei, Orami Bilna, SaleStock, EV Hive Co-Working Space, WGS Hub, Geeksfarm, Purwadhika Startups & Coding School, and Apple Innovation Center.
The city has also released an app for its residents, called One Smile, which is designed to help them with their daily needs in services such as transportation and food. The city’s One Smart Connect similarly provides locals with high-speed Wi-Fi.
The city’s eco-friendly design is further optimized to encourage young entrepreneurs to move there and let their creativity run wild. Those without any IT skills need not worry about not being able to make any ideas happen, as the city has two of the nation’s best specialists in teaching vocational IT skills, Purwadhika Startup and Coding School and GeeksFarm Indonesia, to prepare human resources that can compete internationally.
Both of these course-based non-degree schools have just opened branches in Sinar Mas Land’s digital city in BSD.
CRASH COURSES FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
At Purwadhika, you don’t need any prior experience in information technology to enroll. All you need is a strong desire to learn, good ideas and six months to get ready to open your first digital start-up.
The school offers a six-month training software program that promises students with even zero IT experience to be ready to make their digital start-up by the end of the course. If a student’s start-up shows promise, the school might even offer investment of up to Rp 500 million.
Geeksfarm similarly trains its students with the skills necessary to meet the needs of modern companies, particularly IT companies. Its start-up school program is geared toward businesses that want to build a successful digital arm, acquire new customers and defend their markets from tech-savvy competitors.
It works together with WGS, one of Bandung’s biggest IT companies. It has a training syllabus and uses the latest technology in its courses. Most of what it offers is not the kind of lessons students normally receive in typical university classes. “Each participant that has declared to have fulfilled graduation standards will get a training certificate,” said Mira Oktavianti, CEO of Geeksfarm. “The guarantee for direct work is one of the unique advantages we offer compared to others.”
These two schools make up the informal education institutes at Sinar Mas Land’s Projects. Those looking for more formal outlets can check out the city’s degree-based universities: International University Liaisons Indonesia, Prasetiya Mulya University and Unika Atma Jaya. Soon two other universities will join them in BSD City – one local university and one international university. It also includes Bandung Institute of Science and Technology (ITSB), a collaboration between Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Sinar Mas and Sinar Mas Land at Delta Mas Bekasi, which is scheduled to be transformed into the Sinar Mas Institute later this year.
The strong focus on schools that can provide students with IT training is intentional on Sinar Mas Land’s part. To create a digital economy, the city needs to foster the growth of local entrepreneurs and workers who can contribute to the country’s economy.
According to Purwa Hartono, founder of Purwadhika schools, the potential of IT is limitless. It is also much cheaper.
“With the rise of cloud computing and mobile technologies, all a start-ups need is software and a server to rent,” Hartono said. “Blue Bird requires more capital and more vehicles each time it wants to expand. Uber doesn’t need to buy cars. Yet Uber is still the world’s largest ride-sharing company, thanks to its software.”
Hartono also noted that software engineers were the last people to be fired or let go when a company needed to change. Similarly, Oktavianti cited a CNN Indonesia report from 2016 that showed programmers were the highest sought positions in the IT field.
The world economy is also beginning to evolve beyond simple cloud computing and software engineering to the rise of an “Internet of Things” kind of world, one where all the things around you will be connected to a network to make life better for everyone. Indonesia needs human resources capable of adjusting and contributing to this kind of world.
“We need big breakthroughs to support the digital economy by facilitating education to catch up with the rest of the world,” Rahajoe said. “There has to be a breakthrough. Otherwise, at the rate things are going, it might take 200 years to get the nation’s 4,000 higher education institutes up to par with other countries for vocational training. That’s why we at Sinar Mas and Sinar Mas Land want to push for change.”