Jakarta. The government has always planned to provide offline training courses for job seekers in the government's pre-employment card from the very beginning, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said on Monday as he rejected criticism the program only benefits certain online platforms.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo launched the pre-employment card, his flagship unemployment benefits program, two weeks ago.
The launch was brought forward as the government sought to provide a quick stimulus for workers laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.
But since then, critics have charged the program might only be a ploy to channel government money to certain online platforms, such as Tokopedia, Ruangguru and Bukalapak, which the government had appointed to provide online training courses.
"That's just not true," Airlangga told Investor Daily on Monday.
"There will be offline courses available after the Covid-19 pandemic ends. The quota for online courses will also be reduced after the second wave [of the program]," Airlangga said.
So far, more than 6 million people have registered for the pre-employment card, exceeding the government's target of 5.6 million this year.
The government accepted more than 168,000 job seekers in the program in its first batch.
Under the program, each job seeker would get a monthly stipend of Rp 600,000 ($38) for the next four months and a voucher worth Rp 1 million for the online courses paid through electronic payment platforms Ovo, LinkAja and GoPay.
PH&H Public Policy Interest Group, a Jakarta-based think tank, said the pre-employment card was a policy paved with "very good intentions but threatened with failure because it wasn't prepared properly."
The think tank pointed out that many of the online courses available through the online platforms were available for free on the Internet.
Also, "direct payment to the training provider will continue to be questioned by the public, which would be tiring for the government to deflect," PH&H said in a statement on Monday.
"In the first four months, participants should only be given cash incentives, as the government tidies up the procurement process and training funding. Only then can a more proper training program and good governance be applied," the think tank said.
The group echoed others who had questioned the procedure to select Tokopedia, Ruangguru and Bukalapak and several other platforms as the government's training providers.
Because of the criticism, Adamas Belva Syah Devara, the co-founder and director of Ruangguru, resigned from his position as Jokowi's millennial staffer last week.
Airlangga, however, dismissed the notion the government has stepped out of line with the program.
"The training market is a 'new market' that hadn't existed before. The decision for what type of training and platform the program's participants want to use is left to them," Airlangga said.
"It's important to understand how a digital platform functions. They are the aggregators for other service providers," Airlangga said.