Our impact, their voices

How Indonesian youth respond to COVID-19 pandemic

The ILO conducted two complementing surveys to learn about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic to Indonesian youth. The results revealed how youth deal with this ongoing crisis.

Feature | Jakarta, Indonesia | 10 February 2021
Galuh Sari, a 25-year-old nursing assistant, lost her job when her beauty clinic where she worked for two years had to reduce its staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown and travel restriction made many patients hesitant to visit the clinic and preferred to stay home.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a joyful university graduation, Riza Djohan, 21-year-old, had to delay his job application. Due to the economic impact of pandemic, he could not find job vacancies for marketing related works. While waiting for relevant job vacancies, he decided to try digital entrepreneurship using existing digital business platforms.

The stories of Galuh and Riza were the reflection of conditions of Indonesian youth captured by the two complemented surveys conducted by the ILO at the global and national level in 2020. These surveys aimed to find out the impact of the pandemic to youth employment.

The ILO’s global survey covered 437 Indonesian youth (62 percent female and 38 percent male); while the ILO’s national survey reached out to 505 youth (74 percent female and 26 percent male), jointly conducted with two leading youth media network: CewekBanget.id and HAI online. The majority of the respondents were students, followed by young workers and youth who combined school and work.

The ILO revealed that Indonesian youth were not ready to continuously work and/or study from home. Around 76 percent of them said that their productivity had declined. For those who work, 53 percent said their income reduced as 70 percent of them had to work from home.

Complementing the results of the ILO survey, the joint survey showed that the respondents experienced obstacles during their study and/or work from home. Some obstacles included lack of opportunities to have interactive discussions, internet connection problems, uncertain and long study and work hours and financial problems to afford the internet costs.

In addition, the pandemic had caused 56 percent of the ILO’s respondents to delay their studies. Three out of four youth admitted that they learned less during online learning due to the pandemic.

Despite some obstacles that they had to face when studying from home, Indonesian youth were still keen to improve their skills. The ILO’s survey found that the respondents (46.3%) were interested in learning foreign languages and information, communications and technology (ICT).

Meanwhile, the joint survey showed that the interests of youth to improve their skills by learning from tutorials in social media (69.1%), participating in free webinars or online classes (61%) and reading books (46.3%).

Youth employment and entrepreneurship during the pandemic

For young workers, the ILO survey found that one out of five respondents had to stop working because of the pandemic. Meanwhile around 228 respondents had to experience reduction in their working hours.

Indonesian youth are interested in developing an online business
Similar conditions were also experienced by 163 respondents of the ILO’s joint survey with CewekBanget.id and HAI online. They either had to postpone looking for jobs or even had to lose their jobs. As a result, a majority of the respondents (51.5 percent) did not feel confident that they had skills needed to get a job.

In terms of Indonesian youth’s interests to start and develop online businesses, around 41 percent of the joint survey’s respondents said that they were interested in starting and building online businesses. In fact, the survey revealed that 15 percent of the respondents were already starting their online businesses during the pandemic era.

Youth considered social media as one of the tools to get decent jobs. Thus, the joint survey found that 56 percent of respondents believed that their personal branding in social media could help them finding their dreamed jobs.

Tendy Gunawan, ILO’s programme officer for youth employment, said that these surveys provided a clearer picture about the barriers and obstacles that youth had to face during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating effect for young people, not only on their jobs and employment prospects, but also their education and training,” said Tendy, adding the importance of hearing youth voices in order to develop a more inclusive response to the crisis.

In terms of skills development, particularly for youth, Tauvik Muhamad, ILO’s Japan Skills Project Manager, said skills development could improve productivity and help workers, including youth, diversifying their employment opportunities. “Skills development even become more important as the ILO has called for human-centred approach to recover from this crisis by focusing on skills development that help people, including youth, to be more resilient to changes caused by the current crisis and in the world of work in general,” he concluded.

ILO’s support was provided by its two skills projects the Industry Skills for Inclusive Growth Project (In-Sight) Phase II and the Quality Assistance for Workers Affected by Labour Adjustments (UNIQLO) Project .

Funded by the Government of Japan, the second phase of In-Sight Project aims to promote mechanisms and practical approaches that enable industries and workplaces to become drivers of sustainable and inclusive growth in the Asian region.

Funded by the parent company of UNIQLO, Fast Retailing Co., Ltd, the ILO/UNIQLO Project facilitates tripartite dialogues and provide technical assistance to formulate an effective and comprehensive unemployment benefit scheme as a part of social protection system. The Project will run for two years until 2021.