Policy brief: What young people want: Education, skills and training in South Sulawesi’s changing economy
South Sulawesi’s economy is in transition. A quarter of its population of nearly nine million is young, aged between 16 and 30 years old, with many living in rural regions. These regions are, however, going through major agrarian changes where farm productivity is in decline, land inheritance is being challenged, and farmlands are being acquired for urban expansion and infrastructure development. These changes encourage young people to seek work opportunities elsewhere, in big cities, outer island plantations, or abroad.
Our study focuses on Maros, a district close to the provincial capital of Makassar. With a population of nearly 390,000 (2020), Maros is an example of a place undergoing rapid agrarian change. This policy brief explores specifically how the aspirations of young people are changing and what it means for policymakers, especially in the context of education, skills and training.
We examined four field sites – Barugae, Salenrang, Pajukukang and Pallantikang – representing three different settings: rural inland, peri-urban and coastal. Rural inland areas are dominated by smallholder farmers in commodities like rice, seasonal crops, or candlenut production. Peri- urban areas reflect landscapes in rapid transition with intensifying commercial agriculture, like rice farming, to tourism, urban and industrial development, railway and mining. Coastal settings are dominated by aquaculture and fisheries-based livelihoods.
We interviewed 90 people – from young men and women to the elderly – across the four villages. We also analysed land use data, interviewed government officials, conducted focus group discussions and visited vocational high schools. This diversity of groups and settings gave us a broad perspective of the challenges faced.
Photo at top: Students of SMK 8 Makassar, in the Bread House & Cafeteria