Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's flagship unemployment benefits program, the pre-employment card, has come under criticism for the inability of its online training providers to upskill the participants.
The program, launched two weeks ago, sought to provide a quick stimulus for workers laid off during the coronavirus pandemic in the form of a monthly stipend for the next four months and a voucher for online training courses.
Eka Simanjuntak, a skill and training advisor at Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), said there's no proof that online training can improve skills.
"The program might be effective for delivering the relief package, but I doubt it will improve the participants' skill," Eka said in a teleconference on Monday.
Eka said online training is different to online learning that only requires instructors to upload educational content the participants can access at their leisure.
According to him, training needs to be complemented with more practical face-to-face instructions.
"I've seen the courses, and I'm quite concerned because for things like housekeeping and electrical installation, how are the participants going to practice?" Eka said.
Eka pointed out the program's official training partners don't have any track record as a training provider.
The government should instead appoint experienced training institutions to deliver the online training courses using digital platforms, according to Eka.
"Out of the eight official partners, only the Manpower Ministry has experience in training. We have two e-commerce platforms and five digital platforms providing the online training. They should be aware that training is more difficult than online learning for students," he said.
The advisor suggested the government should allow more digital platforms to take part in the program and form a verification team of industry representatives and training experts to decide what types of training should be funded.
"The verification team should decide what types of business are sustainable during the pandemic then choose training programs that will be useful for those businesses," Eka said.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Alma Sjafrina said the pre-employment card is an excellent initiative but should be delivered in a more effective format.
"Participants need an internet connection for the training. The average duration of each training session is three hours. Can you imagine how much money they have to spend on internet alone?" she said.
Alma said the government should postpone the program to review the online training method.
The budget for the program should be reallocated for social aid or to buy personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers.
Responding to the criticism, the Presidential Staff Office's leading expert Donny Gahral said the program can still be re-evaluated with improvements already planned for the next batches.
"We've also been told that the training we now offer is more suitable for urban dwellers, not so much for people living in rural areas. But we still have 29 batches left this year, we'll improve it in the next batches," Donny said.