Indonesia’s digital economy, without a doubt, has grown rapidly within the last five years. This success has led many studies to forecast that Indonesia will be the biggest player in digital economy across Southeast Asia region. Government has undertaken necessary efforts to create enabling environment for new startup digital companies to grow, including supportive regulation, easier access to capital through coordination with Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board, infrastructure provision, creation of e-Commerce Policy Roadmap, and many more.
However, the action hasn’t translated into a rigorous plan, particularly to produce highly skilled and competitive labors, including IT professionals to support the growing digital economy. Digital talent is a quintessential component in building the ecosystem of digital economy. Yet, Indonesia’s digital talents are still underdeveloped, and it needs serious attention from the government. According to Tempo (2018) from a million of population, Indonesia can only produce 278 highly skilled technicians in digital technology. With this attainment level, Indonesia is left behind from neighboring nations—Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Vietnam. Digital ability ranks also put Indonesia in 59th rank, after Singapore (1st), Malaysia (24th), and Thailand (41st). This situation puts Indonesia to import more foreign talents to fill the position.
In responding the issue, many government agencies, such as Ministries of Manpower and Communication and Information, lamented their concerns and willingness to produce more highly skilled of digital talents. Some undertaken efforts are including encouraging domestic and international industries to develop human resources and talents through training system and integrated professional certifications, and Digital Talent Scholarship. Yet, with these plans, Indonesia will still be far-reaching to conquer digital economy in the region. There are two conditions that government should be focused on. First off, government should focus more on developing the talents from basic level of education that emphasizes digital economy. Second, government should be ambitious in retaining state-business relations to provide the expertise that the sector needs, such as collaborating with top level technology companies.
A learning lesson on focusing on those two conditions can be taken from the case of Singapore in how they create the IT professionals and talent to enable their digital economy ecosystem. First, Singapore’s educational system has started emphasizing information technology since late 1980s and has enabled them to produce 21.000 highly trained IT professionals. Second, the government focuses on building rigorous collaboration with private firms and universities, such as International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), National University of Singapore to provide training programs on information technology. The government also collaborates with Japanese firms to provide expertise to develop software locally. This includes the establishment of Japan-Singapore Institute of Software Technology (JSIST) and Japan-Singapore Artificial Intelligence Center (JSAIC). Some higher education level institutions, such as Center for Computer Studies and Ngee Ann Polytechnic have also been actively producing graduates with IT skills by 500 computer professionals annually. With this strategy, Singapore snatched the first rank in Asia for their human capital development.
Those solid plans are the concrete examples of what is necessary for Indonesia to create more IT professionals and talents to support the growing digital economy ecosystem. The government should not only focus on embracing the private sectors, but also having a concrete plan on building the skills from education, through contextualized curriculum with digital economy to ensure that all generations possess basic skills needed by disruptive world. Therefore, Indonesia can harness better its potential in digital economy.
Written by: Siti Rizqi Ashfina Rahmaddina
Editor: Anaq Duanaiko
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