Skill training good both for vocational graduates, companies. The government’s skills-training program not only benefits vocational graduates but also companies that need ready-for-work employees in the country.
For Huda Purnomo, a 23-year-old vocational high school (SMK) graduate, industry training was the bridge to a better future.
“I received many benefits participating in an apprenticeship program because it allowed me to be employed as well as being a student [during mentorship],” said Huda, who had previously participated in a skill training center (BLK) in Bekasi, West Java, and was then hired by Swiss-based escalator and elevator manufacturer PT Berca Schindler Lifts.
Huda said he was hoping for a better future upon being asked the reason why he would join such a company. “More than half of my fellow SMK graduates have yet to be employed,” he added.
According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), SMK graduates had the highest rate of unemployment in the last three years. The open unemployment rate of SMK graduates reached 8.63 percent this year, 8.92 percent last year and 9.27 percent in 2017.
The public-private initiative in vocational studies is part of the government’s effort to provide better-qualified workers, whose skills match industry’s needs as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo centers his programs on human capital development.
On Friday, Berca Schindler agreed to team up with BLK Bekasi and the Manpower Ministry to provide SMK graduates with an apprenticeship program. The program would focus on boosting workers’ skills in the installation and maintenance processes of the escalator and elevator industry for a period of two years.
Berca Schindler CEO Thibaut Le Chatelier said the company, with its double-digit revenue growth in the country, aimed to employ more vocational graduates to expand the business.
“Double-digit growth means that we need many people. We launched this program two years ago to get the best people we can,” said Chatelier during a press briefing in Jakarta on Friday. He, however, declined to disclose the company’s revenue and profit.
Chatelier said the company, which currently employs more than 700 workers in the country, could sell 1,000 to 1,500 units of escalators and elevators per year in areas ranging from Jakarta to Surabaya.
“We have three main business areas, namely high-rise buildings, residential mid-rise buildings, as well as low-rise buildings,” said Chatelier, claiming that the company was currently the market leader in Indonesia and had been since 2016.
Apart from the Berca Schindler program, more and more companies have joined forces with the government to provide industrial training in an effort to bridge the skills gap in the country.
The Indonesian Textile Association (API) and the Industry Ministry, for instance, have signed agreements with 1,200 SMKs to provide work training in the past three years.
Meanwhile, publicly listed diversified conglomerate Astra International has also been training students to meet industry requirements at its own manufacturer polytechnic, Polman Astra, since 1995.
More such programs and partnerships between vocational schools and industries are expected to come to fruition as the government will team up with industry groups in its effort to revitalize vocational schools across Indonesia.
The government plans to revitalize 550 SMKs by the end of the year, having allocated Rp4.3 trillion (US$304.9 million) for the program following the revitalization of 300 vocational schools last year.
As the President prioritizes human resource development, he has increased the education budget to Rp505.8 trillion in 2020 from Rp488.4 trillion this year, some of which will finance the Indonesia Smart Card for university students (KIP Kuliah) and the pre-employment card program to fund jobseeker training.
The government will also speed up the development of skilled labor by providing double income tax deductions for companies offering vocational training and internship programs and triple tax deductions for expenditure on research and development.
The nationwide training program is seen as necessary to prepare the country’s workforce for a changing job market as employers have been complaining about a yawning skills gap in Indonesia. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will only speed up the automation trend and jeopardize job security in the country.
As AI-enabled automation increases, up to 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies, including Indonesia, may need to participate in reskilling programs in the next three years, according to a recent study released by IBM’s Institute for Business Value. Skill training good both for vocational graduates, companies (Adrian Wail Akhlas, The Jakarta Post)