INDONESIA: Tackling graduate unemployment

Indonesia's Ministry of National Education has announced a sizeable fund to finance entrepreneurship programmes at university level that it hopes will enable more graduates to quickly enter the jobs market. The most recent figures released by the manpower ministry show some 1.15 million unemployed graduates nationwide.

The national education ministry's pro-active director-general for higher education Fasli Jalal believes too many graduates emerge without marketable skills. The ministry has thus earmarked Rp 108 billion (US$8.9 million) to fund entrepreneurship programmes. Graduates will have to compete for a share of the spoils by creating viable models.

Jalal, who has been previously featured here, identifies a lack of student creativity in finding jobs as part of the problem. Other critics point to a lack of such creativity throughout the national education system.

Graduate unemployment figures do fluctuate, of course. The fulcrum of the year is August when traditionally most state and private university graduates pass out. This year as the global recession bites deeper it will indeed to be more difficult to staunch the flow into the pool of unemployed.

Reyna Ahmadi, a senior official at the manpower ministry says, "I am sure we will see more graduates failing to secure employment on account of the worsening economic conditions."

Jalal nonetheless is determined to make a good fist of his efforts. A number of university rectors are backing his latest scheme. Among them is Idrus Patarusi of the Hassanuddin University in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi province.

Meanwhile, Jalal has admonished state universities for "inefficient accounting practices" after the ministry received a rebuke from the national audit agency. "Inefficient" in Indonesia is often a code for "creative" where accounting is concerned.