Success in a disruptive world
In a report published earlier this year, the Asian Development Bank urged Indonesia to consider investing in skills development to accelerate industry transformation. The need to build resilience has never been timelier than now, as countries seek to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. Skills Lead Clarice Campbell explains how Katalis’s Skills for Recovery program provides an overall framework for enhanced labour market skills that support a vibrant and resilient economy.
Development of quality human capital is high on the Government of Indonesia’s agenda. President Joko Widodo has publicly shared his call for an acceleration of innovation in what he calls “today’s disruptive world”. How is the IA-CEPA, and Katalis, positioned to respond to such a pressing need?
Skills are really important as evidenced by the focus the Indonesian Government has on human resource development. It is widely accepted that Indonesia has a need for more skilled workers as the quality of education delivered in the country struggles to meet the expectations of industry. It is because of this that Katalis itself has a focus on skills development, particularly in the vocational space, as Indonesia can truly benefit from working with Australian vocational providers as they are well-known to provide high quality training across a range of sectors. This, coupled with the need for Australian education providers to adapt to the changing educational landscape, allows for benefits on both sides – for Indonesian students and professionals to access high quality training services, and for Australian training providers to access commercial opportunities in an emerging market.
Katalis will respond to the pressing need for innovation in the skills sector by matching supply and demand. At the moment there is no country-wide mechanism for education providers from around Australia to advertise their course offerings in Indonesia and so Indonesian industry is largely unaware of the opportunities at their doorstep to address their skills needs. Likewise, many Australian vocational education providers have little knowledge of real-time skills gaps in Indonesia and so struggle to identify how their capabilities could be used to assist Indonesian businesses upskill staff.
During the life of the Katalis program, the skills team will forge opportunities for Australian training providers to connect with Indonesian industry partners and address these barriers. This will be integral for the two countries to create sustainable business models as the education sector, in many ways, has relied rather heavily on international student mobility. This is not to say mobility opportunities aren’t important or should be discontinued but this is only accessible by a small percentage of students or professionals seeking new qualifications or upskilling. For most, it is important that access to high quality training is available in-country and that there are options for short, medium, and long-term courses, and that training is relevant to industry needs, in turn providing more inclusive and accessible education to all.
In what ways is Katalis working to support the development of skills and the delivery of training in priority sectors?
Katalis is working to support the development of skills by connecting with key industry stakeholders including individual companies and industry associations to identify skills gaps that can be addressed by training delivered by Australian training providers. Currently, in response to the pandemic, the Katalis program has three priority sectors: health, tourism and the digital economy. There are many reasons why these areas have been selected, including that they have been heavily influenced by the pandemic and they are major employers of women and minority groups. Followers of the Katalis program will know that while we aim to support commercially focused ideas, we are also attempting to address some development outcomes. This is the program’s value add and sets us apart from other existing Indonesia-Australia-focused initiatives and organisations.
These development outcomes are critical to support Indonesia in achieving its economic and social development goals. It should come as no surprise that if there is increased participation of women and marginalised groups in the workforce, everyone benefits. The Katalis program hopes to support collaboration between Indonesian industry and Australian training providers so that there are greater opportunities for both countries, but especially for under skilled Indonesians to gain relevant workforce skills within these priority sectors.
Indonesia has one of the fastest growing digital economies in Southeast Asia. How is Katalis engaging with stakeholders in this field to support the upskilling of such a massive digital workforce?
The digital economy is a major area of focus for Katalis. Indonesia is experiencing a digital boom that has only been super charged by the pandemic and this means digital skills are increasingly important for the overall success of the Indonesian economy. Many jobs and businesses, large and small, are adapting to allow for remote working and necessitate increased digital literacy. To support this priority the Katalis team is engaging with major digital players to assess where they may benefit from working with Australian training providers to upskill workers in need of greater digital skills.
Relatedly, Katalis is examining what skills digital economy platforms and employers are seeking and where. We are also working with partners to ‘mine’ skills needs from major job recruitment sites and platforms. This allows a more accurate understanding of demand and with this information, we can more effectively broker relationships with Australian suppliers of education services. Another benefit of focusing on this area is that it’s a sector which reaches remote areas and marginalised groups, including micro-enterprises, women, and people with disability. As such, increasing digital skill is likely to drive inclusive growth and broader participation in the economic recovery.
What are some advantages to working with Australian training providers?
There are many advantages of working with Australian training providers, the first being that Australian education standards are generally recognised internationally. If individuals or groups from within a company are qualified by an Australian institution the qualification will be of use to them wherever you are looking for work whether that is in Indonesia or outside of Indonesia.
Secondly, if an Indonesian professional undertakes a qualification of some kind, whether accredited or non-accredited, from an Australian training provider, it may present them with opportunities to then engage further with Australia in the future. These opportunities may not be immediate but there are many examples of graduates undertaking a training course and some years later being able to further study or work in Australia or with an Australian company.
On top of this, the chance to engage with an international training organisation allows for the development of cross-cultural skills. This provides more opportunities to stand out in the workforce as those who have undertaken training will bring a more diverse range of ideas to a workplace. These sorts of skills are not only highly valuable now but will be even more so in the future as more complex skills are needed within the workforce as it adapts to Industry 4.0. A McKinsey report in 2019 indicated that it is not only technical skills that people will need for the future workplace, but soft skills will also be equally if not more important, and to develop soft skills, students and workers need to be put in situations and scenarios where they are challenged to exercise leadership, develop communication skills and work with diverse groups.
Working with Australian training providers could be an important point of difference for industry players intending to stand out from the crowd and deliver even higher quality services. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive and adequate human resources all the more pressing, access to high quality training may be the answer Indonesian industry is looking for.