Local workers want govt help to compete

In the lead up to the ASEAN free trade zone in 2015, workers and tourism associations are demanding the government be more transparent in using funds collected from foreign workers to improve the quality of local talent, which will face tougher competition for jobs.

For over the past two decades, companies employing foreign workers in Indonesia have been obliged to pay US$100 per month or an overall $1,200 per person a year to the skill and competency fund (DPKK). This is non-tax revenue (PNBP) designed to give the government the money to upgrade the skills and competencies of local workers.

Last year, Bali had around 2,210 foreign workers, as recorded by the Bali’s Manpower and Transmigration Agency. The sum attached to this total represents a staggering $2,652,000 a year in DPKK funding. Each year, Bali welcomes more foreign workers, 80 percent of which are employed in the island’s tourism sector.

“It’s never clear how much of the fund goes to the development of local workers in terms of English language skills, leadership and other technical skills,” said Tourism Workers Union chairman (SP-Par) Putu Satyawira Mahendra.

“Around 70 percent of these foreign workers each have a local worker supposed to be groomed to become the their successor. But there’s never been any allocation from the DPKK fund to develop their potential,” Manila Ayupijaya, an official in the section for the control and use of foreign workers at Bali’s Manpower and Transmigration Agency, told Bali Daily on Friday.

The section’s head, Luh de Widyawati, acknowledged that although the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry had hosted many training sessions provided for by the fund, most of the sessions were designed for fresh graduates.

“Most training covers basic jobs like mechanics, secretaries, tailors, hair dressers, IT staff and spa therapists. I’ve not heard of training on management or leadership skills,” she said.

This year, the agency received an allocation of around Rp 11.5 billion (US$1.18 million) from the national budget, Rp 2 billion of which is allocated to the placement and employment opportunities program, while around Rp 4 billion is allocated to the improvement of workforce competency and productivity. Only around Rp 1 billion in these programs is to develop the skills of local talent.

The provincial administration is in the process of ratifying a regional regulation that would turn the non-tax revenue fund into a retribution form.

If the draft regulation is approved and becomes effective, the DPKK fund will only be taken by the central government during the first year of a foreign worker’s contract. In contract renewals for subsequent years, the fund will be collected as a levy, and thus managed by regional administrations.

However, it remains difficult to say whether such a mechanism will deliver brighter futures for local workers wanting to climb the corporate ladder.

“I hope provincial and regency administrations won’t regard this [change of mechanism] as a way of adding more money to their coffers. We demand around 75 percent of this fund to be used to benefit the development of local talent,” said the SP-Par’s Satyawira.

Deputy chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) in Bali I Gusti Ngurah Rai Suryawijaya, welcomed a more transparent government policy in developing local talent.

“Most managerial training, including tutor hiring and seminar participation, is being initiated by hotel management teams. The government often hosts seminars too, but it’s never clear whether these are a contribution to this levy. I strongly urge better transparency in the fund’s allocation percentage that can really be used for developing local workers,” said Rai.

Bali Hotel Association (BHA) chairman Alessandro Migliore, who is also the general manager of The Royal Beach Seminyak Bali, said that all Accor hotels paid the development fund for every expatriate hired.

“Accor also allocates at least three hours of in-house training per month to maintain standards. I believe that other chains do similar things and also send their employees on BHA training courses,” he said.

By : Agnes Winarti

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