Mon, 22 Aug 1994

6,000 firms offer apprenticeships to technical schools

JAKARTA (JP): Some 6,000 small and medium companies have agreed to offer apprenticeships to students of vocational high schools to help bridge the gap between the education and working worlds.

The pledge was made before Minister of Education and Culture Wardiman Djojonegoro when he met with leaders of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) on Friday at the Jakarta Hilton Convention Center.

"We are very grateful for their participation," an elated Wardiman said. "What is more impressive is that most of them are small and medium-sized companies."

The apprenticeship program is part of Wardiman's "link and match" plan which he initiated in response to criticism that the education system had been unable to supply people qualified to meet the strict requirements of the industrial world.

The apprenticeship program at technical schools will be phased in during the current 1994/95 school year which began in July. Some 247 vocational schools have been listed for the program.

Under the system, students will spend part of their studies working at the companies.

Wardiman on Friday installed the National Vocational Education Council which will oversee the implementation of the apprenticeship program. Kadin chairman Aburizal Bakrie was appointed to head the council whose members include education officials and business leaders.

The council's tasks include formulating policies regarding the apprenticeship and training program, examinations, certification and also channeling the graduates and mobilizing support.

Also on Friday, the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants (PHRI) formally joined in the apprenticeship program, following other associations in Kadin.

PHRI Chairman Ponco Sutowo acknowledged that hotels and restaurants, unlike manufacturing industries, rely heavily on skilled manpower.

"The apprenticeship program will be very beneficial for PHRI members because we will no longer have to provide theory to newcomers," Ponco said. "Previously we had to train them and teach them theory, now we only need to provide training."


Wardiman said he has often heard complaints from the business community about the lack of competence of vocational school graduates.

While the cost of attending these schools is three to four times higher than ordinary high schools, the graduates rarely meet the high quality demanded by industries. In the end, the general public tends to look down on them, he said.

He said most vocational schools did not have the money to buy the machinery, equipment and laboratories they need.

"In some vocational schools, one lathe is surrounded by four students, so one student does the work and the other three just watch ... but all four will receive the same certificate of competence," Wardiman said.

The apprenticeship program with Kadin could remedy this shortcoming, he said.

Aburizal said Indonesia must not rely on cheap labor to attract foreign investors in the future.

"I think the link and match concept is just what we need to meet the demand for high-quality employment. Science should not be explored for the sake of science itself. Instead it should be used to develop the nation," he said.(pwn)