Indonesian local government policymakers to receive regular updates on Australia-Indonesia Centre research
The youth from the Indonesian district of Maros are making a move not unfamiliar in developing economies; away from traditional farming roles to seek work in nearby cities. The parents also share a dream for their children to have an education that enables them to find a job that is different to rural labour.
In Maros, South Sulawesi, more jobs are appearing in manufacturing and services, although agriculture remains a significant employer. A once rural area is now becoming more urbanised – it’s a mix that presents an opportunity and a challenge for policymakers where young people (15 – 24 years) comprise 20 percent of the population and 16 percent of the labour force.
The Governor’s office, which oversees districts including Maros, is keen to find ways to bridge the gap between young people’s aspirations and the kind of skills and training they need to successfully move into other industries. And the South Sulawesi Governor, Andi Sudirman Sulaiman, has convened a regular policy forum to discuss these kinds of development issues.
At the first forum in April the Australia-Indonesia Centre and the Governor’s development ‘accelerator’ team (TGUPP) met to discuss preliminary findings on young people.
Known as PAIR (Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research) the team is collecting evidence to better understand the aspirations and needs of those who are moving from home into work and new lives.
According to the head of the acceleration team, Andi Aslam Patonangi, “the policy forum is important to understand the needs of youth. Our policy should work in parallel with the demography to create a link between education and opportunity. We need to create policies to benefit the youth.”
Working under the (PAIR) they are collecting evidence on the policies, skills, programs and education options available to young people and looking at how that compares with their aspirations for life and work.
The Regent of Maros District, Andi Syafril Chaidir Syam, responded to their presentation on how the work fits with the needs of his community.
“We have a demographic bonus, at 51 percent of the youth in our population, that we need to manage. Furthermore, we want to ensure we prepare the necessities for our youth with skills and knowledge for employment, especially for their livelihoods, as COVID-19 impacted economic growth and unemployment is a challenge.”
Maros is a district next to the city of Makassar, South Sulawesi’s capital, and on the route of a new rail line which should generate more opportunities for young people.
“When the train is operating, we believe Maros will become more attractive for investment. This can provide opportunities for the youth,” said Dr Patonangi.
Young people will need to have the education and skills to tap into the opportunities arising from a growth in ports, railway lines and logistics.
Regent Andi Syafril Chaidir Syam told the forum that he appreciates the research and hopes the government can use it in the future.
“At the moment Maros is putting a focus on supporting factories that generate jobs and grow industries. We need to fulfil opportunities for the other sectors too,” he said.
He also talked about a program called YESS which is aimed at making the agricultural sector attractive and beneficial for youth, as the regency wants to encourage the millennial generation to take over from older farmers.
“We have 5000 people competing for 400 civil servant spots – not everyone can be a civil servant. We are working with industry to provide training. God willing we will have concrete action from the research to support the youth aspirations”, said Maros Regent Mr Syam.
The PAIR research team consists of Associate Professor Wolfram Dressler from University of Melbourne, Dr Reni Suwarso from Universitas Indonesia and Dr Wilmar Salim from the Bandung Institute of Technology.
The forum also includes South Sulawesi’s Planning, Research and Development agency (Bappelitbangda) and it will be held every month to share the progress of PAIR research and bring together the AIC’s network of researchers across 11 universities in both countries, and stakeholders in the PAIR focus area between the capital city of Makassar and Parepare.