Indonesia is a country where labor quality remains an issue. Data from BPS (Central Statistics Agency) showed that over 60 percent of the country’s labor force completed their lower secondary education (SMP) or below, and 45 percent of total unemployed only managed to finish their SMP education or below.
Low-level education has significant implications on the quality of workers. Consequently, Indonesia’s labor competitiveness remains at a low level. In ASEAN, Indonesia ranks fourth place with respect to labor productivity, behind Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Regarding labor issues at the national level and in five regions where research was conducted by the Civil Society Coalition for Decent Work, it is evident that the government needs to have policies in place for improving the quality of human resource and opening wider access to decent work.
This is the only way to improve the quality of Indonesian workers to ensure absorption by industries, which will ultimately reduce open unemployment rates. A roadmap must be developed on improving labor quality and vocational education institutions. Vocational education must be an integral part of the national education system and fundamental social structure of a society.
A dynamic education system that can keep up with the ever-changing needs of society, the industry, as well as the aspirations of the younger generation and a rapidly changing global economy. Vocational education should also designed by engaging the necessary stakeholders to ensure a flexible curriculum that meets the needs of the industry as employers.
The district/city government must establish policies that open up new employment opportunities, such as incentivizing investments and developing the necessary infrastructure.
Each region has a different set of priorities. In Malang District for example, the local government is advised to develop community entrepreneurship, an economic empowerment model suitable for the region, not only because it offers economic gains on an individual basis, but also collectively.
In the districts of Kulonprogo and Wonosobo, it is recommended that the local government develop a roadmap for improving labor quality. Meanwhile in Yogyakarta City and Bojonegoro
District, the local government is urged to improve the quality of BLKs and job training institutions, and build a labor database. This is to ensure that the workforce in these regions can obtain employment that matches their skills, and that the necessary policies are issued on the basis of valid and reliable data.
The government must also anticipate developments in the digital industry by preparing a workforce that has adequate knowledge of this particular sector. This is an industry that will undeniably continue to expand with the growth of start-up companies, and old conglomerates beginning their foray into an industry that they see as the future of business.