Changing aspirations of South Sulawesi young people

In a rural region experiencing agrarian development, how are the priorities and aspirations of young people in South Sulawesi changing? And what needs to be done to support these changes? This question is the focus of a team of researchers from the Australia-Indonesia Centre.


South Sulawesi is one of the fastest developing regions in Indonesia. National funding has boosted infrastructure and connectivity projects, improving access to new and emerging education and employment opportunities. This has encouraged many young people to engage in new social and economic opportunities, moving away from a reliance on agricultural livelihoods.

Young people aged 16-30 make up a quarter of the population of South Sulawesi, and these opportunities have provided them with the ability to achieve greater levels of education, and gain the skills and qualifications necessary to move into higher-skilled production, construction or service sectors.

Research already conducted by the PAIR research group aimed to better understand the aspirations and goals of these young people. In their investigation, they also sought to identify current government policies and programs which support these goals, as well as barriers that impede their realisation.

The research also analyses the spectrum of social groups and the degree of access to these opportunities in different demographics.

Building on the foundations laid by this research, the team lead by Senior Fellows A/Professor Wolfram Dressler, Dr Reni Suwarso and Dr Wilmar Salim now ask ‘what skills, education, and knowledge matter to the livelihoods needs and changing aspirations of young people across rural, coastal, and peri-urban areas in the Maros District?’

Three main topics

Through this research, they aim to answer this question by approaching three main topics. Firstly, it will identify changing aspirations of young people in several different situations, and try to better understand how gender, knowledge, and changing circumstances affect these aspirations.

Furthermore, the research seeks to examine existing and desired skills and education, in terms of the current and future labour opportunities and needs, and find what degree of alignment exists. Finally, it combines these results to provide practical recommendations to improve young peoples’ access to opportunities where labour opportunities and needs exist.

These three topics form the basis of the three work packages at the core of the research. Profiling young people through demographic analysis and interviews and understanding existing skills and current needs through surveys, the first two work packages lay the foundation for the desktop analysis and interviews of the last, where the output and recommendations can be finalised.

“We examine the impacts and outcomes of youth engaging these different social and economic opportunities across Maros District and what specific aspirations and skill sets they need,” Dr Suwarso said.

“These recommendations will provide valuable insights to decision-makers in South Sulawesi, assisting in identifying existing skills and skill gaps.

“This will help inform new policy, ensuring young people have access to opportunities, while working towards constructive and equitable development in the region.”

Research Team:

Senior Fellows: A/Professor Wolfram Dressler (UoM), Dr Reni Suwarso (UI), Dr Wilmar Salim (ITB),

Associate Fellows: Uly Faoziyah (ITB), Retno Indro Putri (UA), Dr Christina Griffin (UoM)

Partner Investigators: Dr Ariane Utomo (UoM), Dr Heni Kurniasih (UoM)

PAIR Intern
The Australia-Indonesia Centre