The ILO research recommends steps to narrow digital skills gap in Indonesia

The ILO research identifies ICT skills shortages and provides key recommendations to narrow the digital gap in seven targeted countries, including Indonesia.

News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 26 May 2022
The ILO shared the key finding of an ILO research project conducted in 2017-2020 on skills shortages, skills development strategies and the governance of international labour migration in seven countries through a webinar titled “Lack of Skilled ICT Personnel in Indonesia: Can We still Compete?” on 19 May. In addition to Indonesia, the research also covered Canada, China, Germany, India, Singapore and Thailand.

Presented by Shreya Goel, ILO’s Technical Officer of the Sectoral Policies Department in Geneva, the research found that the ICT sector has grown very rapidly in the past few years in the seven countries examined in the study. For Indonesia, the ICT growth has been linked with e-commerce and other digital services that continue to drive the increasing demand for ICT specialists.

The research also revealed that ICT specialists have become some of the most in-demand workers in many countries. In Indonesia the ICT sector currently employs 998,000 workers. Furthermore, there were 500,000 individuals working as ICT professionals and technician roles as of 2018 across all sectors.

In fact, employment growth has been greater in other sectors that use ICT rather than in the ICT sector itself, such as in the area of e-commerce for example. The market is expanding rapidly led by tech and digital companies including Tokopedia, Go-jek, Traveloka and Bukalapak.

However, the research also highlighted that all seven countries are facing significant shortages of ICT specialists. In Indonesia, the shortage is varied depending on the qualification level of the ICT workers concerned. Some specific positions or occupations were more difficult to fill than others.

Specifically for Indonesia, these included web developer/web programmer, graphic designer, front-end developer and programmer, Android developer, Java developer and programmer. At the sectoral level, the animation sector of Indonesia faces a significant shortage of between 15,000 and 20,000 ICT specialists.

“These examples illustrate the importance of understanding the shortage of talent at a more granular sectoral and occupational level. To address emerging talent shortfalls in the ICT sector, it is also critical to identify the specific skills that are in demand,” Shreya explained.

Therefore, the research concluded with some key recommendations, among others:

  • Invest in a skill forecasting anticipation system to better understand the current and future needs;
  • Increase investment in post-secondary education institutions and teaching staff;
  • Encourage more women to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields and increase their participations in ICT occupations;
  • Tackle the skills gaps between skills acquired at universities or vocational institutions and skills demanded by industry;
  • Increase the focus of training and education on soft skills;
  • Invest in effective lifelong learning systems and continuous training in the field of ICT; and
  • Invest in effective lifelong learning systems and continuous training in the field of ICT.
Responding to the research, M. Arif Hidayat, Head of International Relations Bureau of the Ministry of Manpower, stated that the Indonesian government has been aware of the existing ICT skills gap and have taken efforts to address this digital skills gap. Some of the actions included the transformation of the vocational training centres (BLK), the development of ecosystem digital employment to ensure skills and job link and match and the strengthened social dialogue through coordination among relevant stakeholders particularly for digital vocational skills.

From the employers’ perspective, Danang Girindrawardana, Executive Director of the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo), emphasized the importance of fulfilling the needs of ICT specialists in the country with its own ICT specialists. “We expect foreign ICT specialists that we employ to fulfil the skills shortage can transfer and share their knowledge and expertise to strengthening the capacity of local ICT specialists,” he said.

Meanwhile from the workers’ perspective, Djoko Wahyudi, Chair of Trade Union Federation of the Panasonic Gobel Indonesia, said that trade unions fully support the development of technology as it has help enhancing work efficiency and productivity. “However, we also need to take into considerations the impact of ICT to labour standards and working conditions. Work from home policy, for example, has impacted to long working hours and occupational safety and healthy,” he reminded.

In terms of providing a greater opportunity for women to be involved in the ICT sector, William Hendradjaja, Co-Founder of Skilvul, underscored the crucial need to develop a safe and comfortable space to welcome women learning about ICT. “The ICT sector is still male-dominated; thus, we need to create enabling environment for women pursue this sector and we need to introduce ICT learning for women from early age,” he emphasized.

The research is part of the The Future of Work in Information and Communication Technology research project under the ILO’s Sectoral Policies Department (SECTOR). SECTOR promotes decent work by addressing social and labour issues in specific economic sectors, both at international and national levels.

The live streaming of the launch of the research and its interactive discussion can be viewed on ILO TV Indonesia.