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Unleashing Future-Fit Talent in the Age of Technological Disruptions for Indonesia’s Future!

Expert Opinion
This article was written by Anthony Marwan D
Indonesia’s talent pool faces steep roads in realising its potential amid advanced technological innovation and chronic issues in the Indonesian education system. As technological innovation is inevitable, the question is how Indonesia can turn the “challenges” into opportunities to achieve its golden generation in 2045.
Picture by: Husniati Salma, 2020
The world is at a crossroads. A global pandemic, economic recession, and advanced technological developments are among the few game-changers. Indonesian talent pool faces massive uncertainties, and the National education system has not fully equipped them with the skills to turn these challenges into opportunities. These problems are related to three prominent barriers: the existing problem in the Indonesian education system, efficiency and lean structure in the industry, and technological advancement to replace the human workforce.
Deep-rooted Education Problem In Indonesia.
The Indonesian education system needs to prepare the talent to adapt and thrive in an age of uncertainty. High-quality education is a deep-rooted issue in the existing education system. We have experienced how education forces students to memorise history, theory, or even formulas to achieve higher grades. Text-book-based education systems appreciate individuals with higher grades and stigmatise people’s success based on it.

The lack of context-based learning puts students’ learning process to neglect the importance of critical thinking and nurturing self-development. A recent research publication by SMERU shows that Indonesian students’ learning achievement is not improved despite moving up a grade. This problem is worrying for a country that aims to be globally competitive. Access to high-quality education is essential to ensure high-quality talents to compete in emerging markets such as the technology industry.

However, Indonesia’s competitive talent index, shared by INSEAD, is still below Indonesian closest competitors in ASEAN countries.

Education should help students understand their strengths and passions and, at the same time, stimulate curiosity. Grading indicators based on memorisation may neglect their ability to adapt to the changing world. Moreover, the recent investigation from Kompas on academic thesis jockey has exposed this chronic problem in the Indonesian education system and future talent quality. Students no longer excite their curiosity and passion for further developing their potential but look for a shortcut to complete their education.

The complexity of education issues affects the effort to equip talent with the necessary skills to stay competitive and adaptive to the changing world. Future fit talent should combine hard and soft skills development and emotional development. The failure to ensure a high-quality education may hinder Indonesian efforts to lower the unemployment rate and advance socio-economic growth.
Industry Efficiency and Technology Advancement, The Barriers to Future Fit Talent
Second, the industry is getting leaner and more efficient. Although the data shows that Indonesia has successfully reduced the unemployment rate to five percent compared to August 2021 (Indonesia Statistic Agency, 2022), Indonesia’s talent still faces unprecedented challenges.

By the end of 2022, Indonesia faced a tech winter. Many promising startups and tech companies massively laid off their employees and tightened operations costs (Kompas, 2022). This is not unique to Indonesian corporations — some of the world’s biggest tech companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon, also cut operational costs by laying off over 28,000 employees in 2022 (Forbes, 2022).

Tech Winter’s main problem is over-hiring and high-salary costs that round up into company operating costs. The inability to manage this problem impacts businesses to cut their ties with employees. Whether talents become a victim of business efficiency or not, the challenges for talents to enter the workforce market lie ahead — the market is getting more competitive, business is becoming more efficient, and an education degree is not a guarantee for survival.

Automation in business operations is already a challenge today, and the adoption of such technology is only increasing. Many businesses or industries aim to fully replace the human workforce with AI-powered automation due to its potential to improve operational efficiency and increase return on investment. Take the example of ChatGPT and Open AI, that become hot topics lately. ChatGPT has passed some business, law, microbiology, and medical tests and can even produce an essay, or Netflix gear up its animation production with AI. Despite mistakes and criticism, AI-powered technology shows a glimpse of the future workforce market.

Moreover, the question remains: What can Indonesia do to create a future-fit talent? We need to empower future talent to be adaptable and resilient. The phenomenon of today’s and future challenges is dynamic. It should be seen as an excellent opportunity to revisit the status quo and reinvent ourselves with new approaches.
Education Reform To Fit The Future Frame
The role of education, once again, is essential to shape future-fit talent. Indonesia should transform its education system by adopting a future-fit curriculum. Students should not be strained with too many irrelevant learning materials that do not fit their preferences and strengths. A collaborative approach is needed to accelerate education reform. The future-fit curriculum should adopt an agile, collaborative, and adaptive approach where students can choose their learning path.

The future-fit curriculum orientation will equip students with knowledge, skills, and values aligned with the current and future context. Education is an essential element in shaping future talent. It has become the fundamental element of our identity, shaping how we think and act in society.
In the new Indonesia Education Road Map 2020–2035, Indonesia highlights the importance of education to help future generations anticipate the disruptive technological, social, and environmental changes that are happening globally. The implementation of the Merdeka Belajar — Kampus Merdeka since 2021 should be appreciated despite further improvements needs. One of the positive takeaways from the new curriculum initiative is that they consider soft skills and character development integral to future talent development.

Skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving are now necessary for future-fit talent, especially to adapt and thrive in the uncertain era. These skills accommodate them to understand, react, and solve problems effectively, a skill highly appreciated in the workforce market. It is crucial to develop cross-scientific fields relevant to the times and issues.

Merdeka curriculum can be a good foundation and opportunity to provide students with a high-quality education beyond a text-book based learning process. Students and teachers should evolve to adapt to emerging challenges, contradicting some criticism of the Merdeka Curriculum. With the growing competition in the workforce market due to population growth and technological advancement, we should empower our future talent with adequate skills to thrive.

This new curriculum facilitates students’ learning outside traditional settings through internship programmes, student exchange, and flexible learning processes. Allowing students to experience the learning processes outside the classroom can help them balance hard and soft skills in their areas of interest.

In addition, allowing our students to experience the market before graduating is important to synchronise future talent with industries and keep the knowledge relevant to the ongoing trend. As mentioned earlier, industries are getting leaner, and technology is advancing. Encouraging this process can be beneficial for both educators and students, as well as industries. Future talent should be able to link their learning subjects with real-world experiences and bring valuable feedback to their subjects.

Furthermore, Education is a formal process in evolving future talent but a vital foundation for future-fit talent. Reforming the education system in Indonesia requires collaboration between the public, educational institutions, private, and students. It becomes a collective action to ensure future generations can adapt to the changing world.

The future is no longer far away. Our talent should be prepared for the prominence of technological adoption and industrial efficiency. We should keep our heads up to help future talent fit into the frame. Our future talent can thrive in the new ages if we can transform our education system to help them. The future-fit talent is about empowering their ability and skills to adapt and be resilient to future challenges.

Original article was published in thejakartapost.com with the title “Unlocking Indonesia’s future-fit talent in an age of technological disruption”.

Click to read: https://www.thejakartapost.com/paper/2023/05/03/unlocking-indonesias-future-fit-talent-in-an-age-of-technological-disruption.html.
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