Manpower quality is one of the problem Indonesia faces amidst the highly competitive global market. For this reason, the government have been formalizing strategic policies, one of which is vocational school development to meet the demands of modern industry.
Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani admitted that Indonesia’s manpower level of education is still very low; 65% are junior high school graduates or lower, 25% are high school graduates, and only less than 10% have higher education.
“This is why we’re reinforcing our education and preparing competent prospective workers to improve competitiveness. We are revitalising vocational school,” minister Puan said during the MoU signing with five related ministries in Industry Ministry office, Jakarta on Tuesday (28/11).
The signing was done by five ministers: Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy, Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir, Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri, and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno.
On that occasion, Puan reminded that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has produced the Presidential Regulation No. 9 of 2016 about Vocational School Revitalisation to Accelerate Indonesia’s Human Resource Quality and Competitiveness. The president has ordered related ministries and other institutions to take needed steps to accelerate and expand vocational education.
Through vocational education revitalisation, all graduates are expected to have competence certificate which will ease their transition into the world of work. This will bring benefit to the industry as they will be able to increase their competitiveness through competent manpower. “Besides that, vocational education is expected to be able to breed young entrepreneurs,” minister Puan added.
In practice, Puan said, vocational education revitalisation includes deepening market need-based curriculum, structruring field or study program, modules drafting, provision of productive lecturers/instructors/teachers, improving means and infrastructure, building teaching factory, certification accreditation, also intership system improvement, and partnership with industry.
“In several vocational school and polytechnics, the industry are directly involved in the learning process, so there’s no mismatch between the education sector and the working world,” minister Puan continued.
Preparing Indonesia’s highly qualified manpower is not just to boost national development, but to compete in this global era. There are five elements of global free trade: investment, goods, service, capital, and skilled workers.
“So it is clear that to prepare a competitive, competent worker we have to revitalise vocational education like what we are trying to do together,” explained minister Puan.
On the same occasion, there was another agreement signing between several vocational school and industrial companies. As a pilot project, three companies have been chosen to partner with 20 SMK, there are PT Petrokimia Gresik with 7 SMK in East Java, PT Astra Honda Motor with 9 SMK in Tangerang, Banten, and South Sulawesi, and PT Polytama Propindo with 4 SMK from Indramayu and Cirebon.
This was an attempt not just to prepare qualified Indonesian workers to be a main power in national development, but also to face global competition.
“This MoU signing needs to be followed up by clear, measurable, and assessable steps. Vocational education revitalisation has to be able to prepare productive Indonesian to contribute to national development and to strengthen Indonesian workers competitiveness,” said Coordinating Economic Minister.
Meanwhile, Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said, preparing manpower supply that meets industry’s needs is a must. That is why the president instructed all related ministry and institution to work together to prepare competent manpower to solve Indonesia’s problem in the future.
“Nowadays, we feel how tangible is unemployment but on the other said, plenty of companies are hindered in finding the right candidate. It turns out that a lot of people of the working age don’t have the right competency the industry needs. This is what we have to fix,” said Hanif.
It takes a synergistic work between all parties related, he added. Not just the government, but also industry association, nonprofit organisation, and definitely the teachers. “We’re being optimistic in facing the challenging global and industry world which will keep moving forward with vocational education reinforcement,” he stated.