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Almost every year, more than one million vocational high school (SMK) graduates are unemployed. For the last two years, the unemployment rate among SMK graduates was the highest compared to graduates from other educational levels. Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in February 2014, the unemployment rate among SMKs was 7.21 percent, still lower than the unemployment rate of high school graduates (9.10 percent). In February 2015, the unemployment rate of SMK graduates has reached the highest of 9.05 percent. In this period there are 1.2 million unemployed SMK graduates.
In February 2016, the unemployment rate of SMK graduates has increased to 9.84 percent (1.35 million people). While the unemployment rate of high school graduates dropped to 6.95 percent. The unemployment rate among graduates of diploma programs 1 to 3 was 7.22 percent. This condition is a major challenge for the government that now strives to increase the number of vocational schools. If the number of vocational schools and their students continues to increase, while the unemployment rate is also high, then the SMK would become a “generator of the unemployed”. The government’s aim to generate skilled ready workers by adding the number of vocational schools would never be achieved.
Satryo Soemantri Brodjonegoro, the research team leader on educational policy for the Education Sector Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership (ACDP), titled “Linking the National Plans for the Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development To Programming in the Education Sector (2015)”, said that the labor market in general was not satisfied with the competencies of graduates starting from high schools/vocational high schools up to the universities. There has been a mismatch between the graduates’ skills with the needs of the business world. Yet at the same time many companies have planned for expansion and require manpower.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Benny Sutrisno said that the preparation of human resources with competencies in accordance with the needs of the industries is one of the challenges that must be faced. The education of the Indonesian workforce was not conducted based on the needs or requirements. Consequently, the graduates are sometimes not in line with the needs of the working world. Indeed there were some who argued that in Indonesia there are many people who are highly educated but with low performance.