Closing the digital skills gap of young port workers: a study of Makassar port

people seated around a table, talking and looking at laptop computers

The past eight years have seen rapid infrastructure development in South Sulawesi with the building of several strategic projects such as railways, ports, highways, toll roads, dams and power plants.

These new facilities provide an opportunity for young people, aged 16 to 30, to step into jobs that require digital knowledge and capabilities. By examining the major industrial facility of the port of Makassar we have found significant gaps in digital literacy between the education system and industrial needs, as well as within the current workforce.

The gaps between education and port operations occur in almost all levels of competence including supply chain management and data and information literacy. In the context of the port’s employees themselves there is limited understanding of what technical skills are required, and therefore potentially lacking, to support efficient and effective operations of the port and management of its logistics.

We have also found several reasons why this gap exists. These include curricula that fail to include digital literacy competency elements, teachers with insufficient digital competence and supply chain qualifications in digital competence and supply chain management, limited availability of training facilities and infrastructure, and a weak partnership commitment between VET schools and the state-owned port operator Pelindo Regional IV Makassar.

The findings have come through discussion and surveys with port managers and vocational schools in Makassar. The evidence collected has been invaluable.

During the course of our work, we were also able to build a comprehensive framework, or tool, that can be used to measure an individual’s digital skills specifically in supply chain and logistics management.

Read the full ‘Closing the digital skills gap of young port workers’ here

There is now more clarity about the gap between what is taught in vocational schools and what is needed ‘in the field’. Furthermore, we have been able to craft a roadmap on how to teach and develop the skills required to work in an increasingly sophisticated digital economy.

The Port of Makassar is a busy one, a main thoroughfare for passengers and cargo, and classified as a primary port by the national government. The government of South Sulawesi advocates, in line with the national government, the need to improve education and skill levels among its young people to support the development of infrastructure and therefore the economy.

A policy brief about improving digital skills can be viewed here

Although education levels are generally increasing among young people the Indonesian government recognises that the rate of improvement is not enough to deal with future technological requirements and increasing global competition.

It has made human resource capacity part of its national development plan and we believe this study provides useful intelligence on the task ahead while offering practical tools to support the development of young people.

Feature image: Rizky Utami and PAIR