Thu, 17 Jul 2003

70 percent of job seekers underpaid, overqualified

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

For Iwan, 28, finding a job that is commensurate with his level of education is no easy task. As a Master of Natural and Environmental Resources Management from the Bogor Institute of Agricultural (IPB), Iwan has been forced to apply for all sorts of jobs, including as a scriptwriter for a TV station and an accounts officer for an advertising company.

"Actually I want a job in a green company, but I realize it won't be easy. I have applied to 10 green companies and institutions but so far there's been no response. However, I need a job more than I need idealism," said Iwan, who was awarded his master's degree in May.

Iwan was one among 9,000 people who flocked on Wednesday to the Kartika Chandra hotel for the second day of the two-day Career and Recruitment Exhibition 2003. A total of 18,500 people, mostly university graduates, visited the exhibition. This figure was, however, lower than the expected 20,000.

The exhibition, staged by online recruitment service, proved to be a mecca for job seekers looking for better positions and higher salaries.

Ani, 24, is currently working as a customer service officer for a marketing company but is looking for a new job as a secretary or an administrative officer.

"I'm looking for a job that offers a promising career and provides a conducive place to work," said Ani, who holds a diploma in business administration.

Sugeng, 23, a university graduate, told The Jakarta Post that he had been waiting since 8 a.m.

"I didn't get into the ballroom yesterday. That's why I came earlier this morning. Thankfully, today's event is better organized," said Sugeng, who graduated from the School of Economics of the National Development University (UPN) last July.

He brought with him 10 sets of application letters to present to some of the companies in the exhibition.

Sugeng had sent about 10 applications through the post but received no favorable replies.

"I began to feel a bit of stress, but now when I see so many university graduates who are also desperately looking for jobs at this event, I feel relieved. I'm not alone," he said smiling.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show that there were 549,356 unemployed job seekers with different educational levels in Jakarta alone in 2002.

There were a total of 9,132,104 jobless people nationwide, of which 5,659,715 were fresh graduates holding diplomas and bachelor's degrees.'s managing director, Eddy Tjahja, said that about 70 percent of the exhibition's visitors were employees looking for new jobs offering higher salaries, improved careers or a better future.

Noted scholar B. Herry Priyono told the Post that this was a disturbing phenomenon.

"Many people are taking temporary jobs just to earn money. They consider it a stepping stone to getting work in the big corporations, for example, those located on Jl. Jend. Sudirman and Jl. M.H. Thamrin," he said.

He said that corporations were continuing to reduce their work forces while at the same time the universities continued to produce more new graduates every year.

Herry called on the government to encourage the growth of small and medium enterprises that could provide greater employment opportunities.

In contrast to the first day, which was marked by a near riot, the second day appeared to be better organized. The organizers took measures to avoid any repeat of yesterday's melee by demarcating special lanes leading towards the ballroom.

The organizers had to open the exhibition at 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes ahead of schedule, as the line of job seekers, many of whom had been queuing since 7 a.m., was already hundreds of meters long.