Our impact, their voices

How better skills can boost recognition of domestic work

An ILO training course gives Indonesian domestic workers the opportunity to gain a nationally recognized certificate and aims to raise the status of the profession.

Feature | Malang, Indonesia | 31 August 2017
To improve the recognition and work standard of domestic workers, ILO launched a training programme in Malang, East Java, for in-country Indonesian domestic workers.
TUNJUNGTIRTO, East Java, Indonesia (ILO News) – In Nuriati’s living room, between photos of her late husband and her adult son, a wooden-frame stands out. Inside, a white and gold certificate states that Nuriati is a skilled domestic worker. 

Nuriati has worked as a domestic worker for more than ten years. Today, she is employed by four different households from Monday to Saturday as a live-out domestic worker.

She never thought she would get a certification for her skills. “I only graduated from elementary school and to support my family I could only work as a domestic worker. I did not realize that I could do it in a more professional manner.”

Nuriati (second left) received her certificate.
Nuriati and 90 other domestic workers from Malang District joined the ILO’s pilot skills training programme in 2016. The course consisted of 200 mandatory learning hours, covering housekeeping, cooking, laundry and self-development. All of the participants took and passed the certification exam.

The training is part of the ILO’s PROMOTE project, funded by the United States Department of Labour (USDOL),  and dedicated to promoting decent work for domestic workers and combating child domestic work. It was developed in compliance with Indonesia's National Work Competence Standard (SKKNI) for Individual Service Serving Households, which was adopted by the Government of Indonesia in 2015.

“The skills development and professional recognition play an important role in promoting decent work for domestic workers. Training and certification based on national competency-standards can help raise the status of domestic workers as a recognized profession. This, in turn, would improve domestic workers’ employability and prospects for better employment conditions,” said Arum Ratnawati, Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO-PROMOTE Project.

Starting with motivation, pursuing with determination

The training courses were conducted in five local communities in Malang, in collaboration with the Institute for Societal and Development Studies (LPKP), the provincial manpower office of East Java, and the ILO.

Nuriati said that at first she was hesitant to register for the pilot skills training programme. “I went to school more than 30 years ago. After graduating from elementary school at 12 years old, I never attended any course or training. I was so nervous and worried.”

A few days after the training started, she almost gave up. Class tutorials every Friday evening and practical exercises every Sunday, left her with no time off at all. “At the end of the week I was so exhausted that I just wanted to rest.”

Her motivation increased after she saw the impact that learning tools and techniques had on her productivity. She was also taught how to cook healthy food and to make the most out of local ingredients.

Cooking healthy food was part of the ILO’s pilot skills training programme.
“I realized I could clean, wash and cook better. I work faster with better results. I know more about different fabrics, materials and nutritious ingredients. My employers are happy with the way I work now,” Nuriati said.

 

Learning and sharing

In addition to domestic work skills, she also learned about her rights and duties as a worker, such as the importance of occupational safety and health at the household, contractual matters, working hours, wages and also about motivation.  

With these new skills, she gained the confidence to negotiate a higher salary and overtime pay for additional work.

“People tend to perceive our work as unskilled work, low wages and only for uneducated people. I hope – and I am confident – that the skills standardization for domestic workers can change this negative perception,” she said with a smile, adding that her employers are now worried that she might move to another household.

The skill training programme was part of the ILO’s efforts to improve domestic workers’ job quality and standards through its Promoting Decent Work for Domestic Workers (PROMOTE) Project.
Nuriati has also been appointed by LPKP as an instructor to train and coach fellow workers and she is now the Chair of the Association of Revolutionary Work Movement of Malang Raya (Anggrek Maya), the first domestic worker organization in East Java province. It currently has 300 members.

“I hope that more domestic workers can learn what I have learnt and improve their bargaining position. I also hope that they can voice their aspirations and understand their rights as workers,” she concluded.

The skills training programme has expanded to Jakarta. In collaboration with JALA PRT, a national NGO, training programmes were conducted in Jakarta twice a week from June to August 2017. All the instructors are domestic workers themselves, who have been certified by the National Authority for Profession Certification (BNSP).

“The project's partners are now in the process of registering as training providers with the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of National Education so that they can access Government's grants to continue these skills training programmes at the national and provincial levels,” Ratnawati said.