Jakarta. Switzerland is helping Indonesia meet the demand for qualified workers in the renewable energy sector through vocational education and training, as the largest economy in Southeast Asia tries to abandon coal.
Under the Renewable Energy Skills Development (RESD) project, Switzerland intends to assist Indonesia in equipping the Indonesian workforce with the know-how on renewable power generation. In other words, people who are skilled in installing, operating, and maintaining renewable energy power plants.
“We all know how we would like to move away from fossil fuel towards renewables. But to this end, we would need qualified people who are able to install the necessary equipment,” Swiss Ambassador to Indonesia Kurt Kunz told reporters at his residence in Jakarta on Wednesday.
“This [RESD] project will help to train the needed professionals,” the envoy said.
The RESD becomes the latest addition to Switzerland's many vocational education-related projects in Indonesia. It is also one of the thirty or so projects in Indonesia that the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is funding, according to Kunz.
The government's official website showed Switzerland has agreed to provide 6.5 million Swiss francs (approximately $6.4 million) in grants for Indonesia as part of the RESD.
In February 2021, SECO announced that it would give new grants totaling 65 million Swiss francs spread over the next four years to spur Indonesia’s economic development. The money would go to more than 30 active projects, including the RESD.
The RESD encompasses, among others, the development of a bachelor in an applied science program, locally known as D4, specializing in renewable energy technologies in participating polytechnics.
“This project introduces for the very first time in Indonesia a D4 program in renewable energy technologies, [namely] in the solar and hydropower sectors. By doing so, not only can we upskill the students, but also the people who are already at work,” Philipp Orga, the head of the Swiss economic cooperation SECO at the Swiss Embassy in Jakarta, said.
Indonesia has set a goal to increase its share of renewables within the energy mix to 23 percent by 2025, but there is still a long way to go. The Mineral Resources Ministry reported that the country’s renewables share stood at only 11.2 percent as of 2020. Coal accounted for 38.04 percent of the energy mix that year.
50 Years of Skills Development Cooperation
Switzerland's ties with Indonesia puts great emphasis on skills development. This year marks five decades of bilateral cooperation in the said field.
Aside from renewable energy, Switzerland is also lending a hand to Indonesia’s tourism and manufacturing technology vocational schools. A notable example of this cooperation is the establishment of Politeknik Mekanik Swiss - Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) back in the 1970s. The school is now known as Politeknik Manufaktur Bandung.