In Indonesia there will be a
significant shift in job market priorities because of the ongoing transition of
the country from an agrarian to an industrialized economy and its alignment with
regional and global markets.
This transition is expected to result in
not only industries/workplaces absorbing greater numbers of employees, but also
in employers requiring higher levels of skills. There is already a strong and
growing demand for high-quality, high-skilled human resources across a variety
of sectors and this will only grow stronger in the days ahead.
with this expected increased demand for high-skilled workforce, the Indonesian
economy will not only need higher enrolment from students in its higher
education but also for university programs to significantly improve their
relevance and quality.
In Indonesia today, there is a skills mismatch
between what universities are preparing their graduates for, and the market
requirements. The research and surveys conducted recently by the Economist
Intelligence Unit (The Economist) for the British Council; McKinsey &
Company; and the World Bank all reveal that there is serious concern among
employers in Indonesia on existing general skills mismatch between the demands
of the job market and the skills of the university graduates.
overall quality and relevance of the educational programs offered by Indonesian
Universities need improvements. Despite increased years of schooling and greater
overall participation in higher education, graduates are found to be unprepared
for the job market.
Today, a university education does not necessarily
guarantee a student that he/she fits the needs of industry/workplace.
This is partly blamed on the inadequate standards and inappropriate
focus of the national universities. They seem often either not providing an
adequate standard of teaching and learning in the discipline, or fail to combine
theoretical knowledge with practical skills relevant to students’ future
This has resulted in a shortage of appropriately-skilled
workforce and a surplus of unemployed university graduates.
a 2008 survey distributed to a number of Indonesian employers (Economist
Intelligence Unit, The Economist), ‘core skills’ such as numeracy, literacy and
other generic skills and practical experience are perceived to be nearly as
important as theoretical knowledge for professionals and the skilled workforce.
Such skills are often lacking among managers and professionals, with
English and computer competencies particularly scarce. The survey also points
out behavioral skills as being especially desirable in managers, yet nearly one
third of employers see a gap here for managers and professionals.
What Indonesia now badly needs is a
university with strong focus on the needs of various
Current employment prospects for many
Indonesian graduates are unfortunately rather limited. Indonesia suffers from
one of the least graduate-friendly employment markets in the region. This is
reflected in the high levels of unemployment that many recent university
This, however, is not because of a lack of demand for
university-educated talent in Indonesia, rather a result of the lack of
confidence that Indonesian employers have in the quality of Indonesia’s
Indonesian employers are willing to recruit more
university graduates if they possess the skill-sets and meet the requirements.
Skilled university-educated human resources will continue to be in great demand
in the market.
It is also interesting to note that youth unemployment in
Indonesia suffers disproportionately from the skills gap. Surveyed employers
refer here to the youth’s lack of practical experience and the poor quality of
Hence, the higher education sector needs to not only be
reformed but restructured to fit the demands and needs of an industrializing
economy. But this will take considerable time which Indonesia cannot afford.
One immediate solution and way forward which also would accelerate the
much needed reform and restructuring work of the Indonesian universities would
be to establish a new type of university, a university of professions, dedicated
for the needs of various professions, a university by the professions for the
professions, in addition to the existing universities.
now badly needs is a university with strong focus on the needs of various
professions, their knowledge development needs, their recruitment needs of
competent human resources and their needs of training and life-long learning,
With the shift from resource-based labor-intensive industries to
more advanced, knowledge-based, technology-intensive sectors of production,
there is a rise in the demand for more sophisticated education. This development
will lead to greater affluence in some sectors, with a concomitant further
increase in demand for higher education.
At the same time this situation
will also create more and different challenges related to alleviating and
abolishing poverty as well as massive urban and environmental problems.
The quality of development in the country is hampered by the shortage of
qualified human resources available at senior and middle management levels in
both the public and private sectors.
The main characteristics of a
university of professions include among others the following: integration of
scientific knowledge and knowledge from the professional practice; research
questions being generated from praxis fields; encouragement to solve
inter/trans-disciplinary problems, and collaboration with stakeholders in
private as well as public sectors of society.
considerations include: recognizing the validity of the vocational
experience-based knowledge; engaging professions in partnership; emphasizing the
criterion of relevance; forming strategic alliances; implementing new models of
doctoral studies; and implementing an appropriate organizational structure.
The current higher education model of Indonesia is largely a
campus-based model, one in which instruction is a highly variable process guided
by individual faculty and movement through the education experience is time
Using this model, students sit in classrooms for an allotted
period of time with individual faculty creating highly variable learning
experiences through curriculum and instruction.
The university of
professions emphasizes competency-based education which is an outcomes-based
approach to education where the emphazis is on what comes out of postsecondary
education rather than what goes into the curriculum.
competency-based approach, one does not begin preparing a course syllabus by
identifying content and readings.
Instead, one begins by identifying
competencies and then selecting the content, readings and assignments to support
student attainment of those competencies.
With a competency-based
approach, students advance when they have demonstrated mastery of a competency,
which is defined as “a combination of skills, abilities and knowledge needed to
perform a task in a specific context”.
Mastery is the sole determinant
of progress, which means that delivery options multiply and expand since any
instructional method or instructional provider that can move a student toward
mastery is theoretically acceptable.
In competency-based education,
assessment is embedded in every step of the learning process in order to provide
students with guidance and support toward mastery. This heightened level of
assessment is designed to build competencies in real time.
It is clear,
given this description, that the design of the learning experience is dependent
upon standardized and agreed-upon definitions for skills, abilities and
knowledge; competencies; and demonstrations.
The writer is the former president of
the Asian Institute of Technology, former rector of the University of Boras,
Sweden and former vice president of the renowned Chalmers University of