Engaging trade unions in skills development for improved productivity and working conditions

The ILO urges trade unions to actively take a leading role in anticipating and building skills for the future.

News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 12 February 2024
Abdul Hakim, ILO’s Programme Officer (right) and Dede Sudono, ILO’s Project Officer for Skills Development (far left), shared their insights at the National Conference of Indonesian Dockers’ Union (SP-TKBM). © ILO/Gita Lingga
The ILO shared the importance of skills development for workers as means to not only increase their productivity, but also to improve their standards of living. Abdul Hakim, ILO’s Programme Officer and Dede Sudono, ILO’s Project Officer for Skills Development, shared their insights at the National Conference of Indonesian Dockers’ Union (SP-TKBM) held in Jakarta on 7 February.

Humans are central actors in processes of innovation and technological change. Thus, it is important for the trade unions, particularly SP-TKBM, to pay serious attention to continue developing and improving skills of their members to stay competitive and productive in the labour market."

Abdul Hakim, ILO’s Programme Officer
Abdul reminded the participating unionists about the implication of the future of work and the urgency to address skills mismatch through reskilling and upskilling programmes. He also cited the ILO’s human-centred approach to increase productivity and create decent employment.

“Humans are central actors in processes of innovation and technological change. Thus, it is important for the trade unions, particularly SP-TKBM, to pay serious attention to continue developing and improving skills of their members to stay competitive and productive in the labour market,” he stated.

The certification is crucial to not only validate our working skills, but also to have an increase of salary and better working conditions. Certification can be used as workers’ negotiation tool and negotiation is one of the important roles and functions of trade unions."

Dede Sudono, ILO’s Project Officer for Skills Development
Meanwhile, Dede emphasized the significance of certification. She posed an intriguing question: If you say that you already have numerous skills needed as a skilled docker, are those skills certified? Have you got the certificates to demonstrate your competency?

“The certification is crucial to not only validate our working skills, but also to have an increase of salary and better working conditions. Certification can be used as workers’ negotiation tool and negotiation is one of the important roles and functions of trade unions,” she stated.

Both Abdul and Dede highlighted the Indonesian government’s employment strategic planning for 2045, focusing on employment in agricultural and service sectors. They encouraged the participating unionists to be part of the strategic planning and be in line with the government’s mission.

“There are many ways that the trade union can do to continuously improve your skills and always be ready for the fast-changing employment. Vocational training and apprenticeship programmes are some of the ways. Skills development should be the priority programme of the trade unions,” Dede said.

She added that through its “Skills Development and Responsible Business Conduct” project, the ILO aims at supporting a human-centred recovery from recent disruptions in the global supply chains. Funded by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the project aims to provide skills development of workers, promote responsible business conduct (RBC) and promote an environment that contributes to a transition to resilient value chains in Indonesia.

The interactive discussion concluded with the notion that skills development was an investment and should become a priority programme of the trade union for the improved welfare of workers and for maintaining workers’ competitiveness in facing future of work.

The national conference of dockworkers in Jakarta. © ILO/Gita Lingga