Analysis-Young Indonesians Wary of Election Promises as Jobs Boom Eludes Them
Indonesia's Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and presidential candidate, with Gibran Rakabuming Raka, enter a televised debate in Jakarta, Dec 12, 2023
Adrian, an Indonesian auto mechanic graduate, faces job uncertainties despite investments in the country by electric vehicle companies. As a first-time voter in the upcoming election, he lacks confidence in the economic policies of the presidential candidates. Job creation and improving the quality of life top concerns for millennial and Gen Z voters, comprising over half of Indonesia's 205 million electorate. Contenders promise over 15 million jobs in the next five years, crucial for the country's goal to become a high-income nation by 2045.
While the outgoing President Joko Widodo's policies attracted investments in industries like nickel smelting and electric vehicles, job creation has not matched the influx of capital. The unemployment rate officially stands at 5.32%, but analysts argue it understates the problem, with many considered employed working minimal hours. Approximately 60% of workers operate in the informal sector, and youth aged 15 to 24 constitute 55% of the unemployed.
The Indonesia Employers Association emphasizes that employment should be a key indicator of government success, not just investment. Vocational education policies, modelled on Germany's, haven't aligned well with private sector needs, contributing to high unemployment among graduates. As Indonesia faces a changing demographic and potential middle-income trap, the next administration must address automation challenges and define the nation's path to advanced economic growth.