An article published by "The Sunday Times", dated May 29, 2011 - "Youth Employment in Indonesia - Job-seekers are willing but unqualified
"Diploma holder Yuni Sugrondo has jumped from one contract job to another in the last three years. Her stints as administrative assistant paid up to 1.5 million rupiah (S$220) a month, just enough to buy food and contribute to her family's expenses for their house. The 24-year old, who studied management at a private institute in Jakarta, has not been able to find a permanent job. Employers tell her she lacks specific skills for the jobs in human resources that she really wants."
"That is why I want to take a course in human resources so I can get into that industry. But first, I need to earn enough to save money", she said."
Ms. Yuni is among a growing number of Indonesians aged between 15 and 24 who have yet to benefit from Indonesia's economic boom, analysts say. The problem is many of these young people lack the education and skills to land well-paying jobs.
The General Manager of online recruitment firm JobsDB in Indonesia, Mr Chandra Ming, cited the information technology (IT) industry as an example. Of the 200,0000 vacant positions, only about 40 per cent are filled because workers lack the qualifications.
"For every IT job advertised, we get around 80 to 120 CVs monthly", he said. Often, the hiring firm is looking for Degree to Diploma holders, but many candidates are high-school graduates, he added."
Already, university graduates face keen competition for decent work. The situation is even bleaker for the less skilled.
This is because Indonesia's service sector - which includes trade, communications, transport and construction and requires better-skilled workers - has expanded while the labour-intensive manufacturing sector has slowed down. Analysts have noted that the income gap between graduates and non-graduates continues to widen.
Moving forward, here are my 5 pointers:
1. Due to the trend, we often see talent outsourcing from neighboring countries like Indonesia to fill in the "gaps" of work which we local Singaporeans may not be keen to take up - this can be attributed that the qualities needed are not too far-fetched. Furthermore, companies are able to hire them at a lower cost, judging the strength of the Sing dollar currency against Indonesia Rupiah. Naturally, the workers from Indonesia are motivated to look for overseas jobs. Therefore, with a foreign work population adding to the crunch (but offering work expertise to us on a holistic perspective), for certain areas like general services, we may see a squeeze in the employment numbers. Perhaps more can be done for the lower rung of employees.
2. Singapore, being a leading education hub, focuses on higher end qualifications and upgrading, so that we could remain competitive in the longer term due to our open economy. If we do not take the necessary actions to evaluate our personal career marketability on a bi-annual basis, chances are that we may be left behind should our skills remain non-competitive to meet the growing demand of the industries, for instance the rise of social media. Certainly, we do not want to be left out. This can be made worse for any career transition mode.
3. If Indonesia service sector is growing, with a large population size, there could be opportunities within its sub-sectors. Try to identify the hot spots, gather contacts and speak to them if this is something that interests you. Perhaps you might find yourself working for a global organization where Indonesia is a country office only or the firm may be considering viable expansion options. Contacts are important in today's well connected world.
4. A mix of consultancies, training and development centres and related associations could help equip the Indonesian graduates adequate knowledge in certain areas, much needed by local and foreign companies setting up their base in Indonesia.
5. If situation continues, there could be a problem of higher unemployment rate amongst the young. Contract-based jobs are temporary and will not be helpful in the long term. At school level, a closer connection between the institution and the key companies/corporations in the industries could help facilitate effective internships and placement programs, thus securing jobs for the fresh graduates. India is an example where leading banks held roadshows in prominent business schools.
In short, a case study like Indonesia will provide some key takeaways for personal career planning. especially in trend spotting and maximizing opportunities. After all, Indonesia is home to palm oil plantations and may be the catalyst for future retail boom, considering the large population. Not to forget the petrochemical sector. An outsource of talent may pave the way for a globalized workforce.