Indonesian digital skill needs presents an opportunity for Australian education providers

Man teaches woman on transparent screen, mathematical symbols on screen, students at desks in background

While the Indonesian tech sector is growing rapidly, the level of skilled workers is struggling to keep up. But that is where the opportunities lie for those in the education sector.


The digital sector in Indonesia is growing rapidly.

A report from the World Bank noted internet use had powered Indonesia to be one of the fastest growing digital economies in Southeast Asia, with adults with internet access increasing more than three-fold from 13 in 2011 to 51 percent in 2019.

And a recent Katalis Market Insight report Training Indonesia’s Workforce observed that Indonesia’s digital services sector is expanding rapidly but that its current workforce “lacks the skills to meet existing demand”.

This comes as Australian education and training providers have identified Indonesian demand for online courses in digital learning.

TAFE Queensland is an Australian education provider that has been active in Indonesia, working with the South Jakarta computer school BINUS Centre. The executive director for international education, Russell McKay, spoke of “a large population requiring skilling” during the recent IndOz Conference 2022 in Brisbane.

In an interview with the Australia-Indonesia Centre, TAFE Queensland senior global business partner Shay McHardy said there was strong interest in digital learning as Indonesians sought to upskill post-pandemic through micro courses.

“There is such a demand to upskill the current Indonesian workforce and also there is a large unemployed population that needs to find new skills,” Ms McHardy said.

“We are finding these online short courses focusing on digital skills and digital literacy are really popular; short, sharp and effective courses… that provide the participant with extra confidence in the workforce [are popular].”


Hands pointing at laptop computerImage by Mimi Thian and Unsplash

Katalis quoted SMERU Research Institute whose researchers found half of Indonesia’s labour force had basic to intermediate digital skills, while advanced digital skills represent less than one percent.

Less than two percent of workers with a secondary, junior secondary, or lower level of education have received training in information communication technology, while a third of workers with a diploma or university degree have received training.

Noting two key market segments, Shay McHardy spoke of demand for courses in cyber security, digital literacy and ‘person centred skills’ that help people with new computer software.

“One market segment is participants who are currently studying, university students looking to value-add on their current degree to make them more employable,” Ms McHardy said.

“The second market segment is those who are already employed or who have been employed [have lost their job] and are looking to re-enter the market.”

Ms McHardy predicted further growth in digital-related online micro courses, for example in health and tourism, meeting the needs of people who were often time-poor.

“Whether it is how to be more digitally savvy in the tourism sector or just a general introduction to tourism or revitalising the industry in a digital way, we can do it virtually,” she said.

“Our trainer can be in Australia and the participant can remain at work in Indonesia.”

A digital skills gap

According to the Katalis report, the digital skills gap “presents an opportunity for Australian technical skills and training providers”.

“With the growing demand for tech talent to support the massive growth of its digital economy, the Indonesian market is a major opportunity for Australian TAFE and vocational education and training (TVET) providers looking to enter or expand internationally,” said Katalis director Paul Bartlett in a recent statement.

“The analysis in Katalis Market Insight suggests Australian TVET providers would benefit from placing greater attention on the Indonesian market.

Mr Bartlett said Katalis was making the connection between Indonesian businesses and the Australian vocational education and training sector.

Katalis is a bilateral government-backed business development program established as part of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Education ties between the two nations have been strengthened by the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) that guarantees, among other things, the acceptance of Australian trainers’ qualifications in Indonesia.

Effects of COVID-19

COVID-19 had a marked impact on Indonesian commerce, as with other nations, and a study from the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research found those with higher proficiency and willingness to innovate in the digital sphere were better able to adapt, reflecting the need for digital upskilling.

According to the report, led by Dr Sebastiaan van Doorn of the University of Western Australia, “digital training is crucial in developing a COVID-19 response” and companies that adapt better to COVID-19 conditions “score higher on employee digital skills”.

The Katalis report predicted e-commerce would drive growth in Indonesia’s digital economy, as well as in transport, food, online media and online travel.

According to Katalis, services such as data warehousing, software development and software as service are key employers.

Image at top by TAFE Queensland.


Picture of David Sexton

Digital Communications Coordinator,
The Australia-Indonesia Centre