SUMMARY Among the OECD countries, it is generally accepted that the better educated have a lower risk of unemployment and the rate of participation in the work force tends to be higher. Although in Indonesia, indicators contradict the findings with the unemployment rate highest among the tertiary qualified (OECD, 2005). In an effort to reduce unemployment, Indonesia has shifted it's policies to convert high school graduates from 70 percent general academic schools to 70 percent vocational schools by 2015 (Ministry of National Education, 2006 cited in Newhouse D. & Suryadarma D., 2011). This was an ambitious target and, although there is an upward trend towards vocational education, latest estimates suggest it is currently under 50 percent (World Data Bank, 2014).
Higher levels of education tend to lead to better labour market outcomes, evidenced in both Indonesia and globally (OECD, 2014). The Indonesian government contributes a huge amount of funding to the education sector with tertiary education received 24.5 percent of the GDP per capita to provide better quality delivery and reducing unemployment. However, both secondary vocational schools and the tertiary providers are still facing the same problems relating to a lack of facilities, lack of teacher qualifications, lack of connection with industries and employers as well as a negative community image of vocational education.
Vocational training providers in public secondary schools (SMK) and tertiary vocational providers appear to be the biggest winners in the government priorities although the paper found that tertiary qualified VET graduates tended to be more employable and generally better skilled than SMK graduates. In addition, SMK graduates were only marginally better than their academic peers due to a poor links to industry and weaker transferable skills and general knowledge.
With the recent shifts in Indonesia's education policies, there seems to have been a focus on improving the quantity of vocational training without creating an action plan for the quality.
Completed as a part of coursework for Comparative Education Policies, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.
Recent research completed as part of a Masters of Education Policy (International) with the University of Melbourne.