Thursday, 10 March 2022

Gen Z: Challenges and Opportunities for Indonesia

Gen Z is the largest demographic group in Indonesia – and also one of the most misunderstood. 

Born between 1997 and 2012 they are digital natives and are extremely talented in some areas, but also lack many of the skills that employers need. At 27.94 per cent of Indonesia’s population, integrating these young people into the workforce is vital for the country’s future success.

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, there are five characteristics of Gen Z that set them apart from their predecessors.

The first is having a global mindset – social media makes it easier to connect with people around the world and exchange information and opinions.

Related to this is the second point: open mindedness. Exposure to people from around the world means they are more likely to accept that different people have different opinions.

Third, they are tech savvy. They are the first generation to grow up with social media and using technology is generally second nature to them.

The flip side of this brings us onto our fourth characteristic – they have enjoyed fewer physical interactions than previous generations since much of their communication takes place online, so they can sometimes need help learning interpersonal skills.

Their open mindedness can sometimes pose a challenge, which is the fifth and final characteristic. When challenges arise and the pressure is on, Gen Z can sometimes find it hard to define exactly who they are and what they stand for.

All this presents some clear opportunities for knowledge transfer from older generations to help Gen Z – and the country – thrive.


Challenges Gen Z Face 

According to the report ‘Gen Z in Transition: Between the Two Worlds’, presented at Kuliah-Kerja Fest!, a webinar organised by Tanoto Foundation and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, there are clear challenges faced by Gen Z.

Even among graduates with backgrounds in economics, engineering, and IT, there is a lack of knowledge and practical skills in automation, data processing, and numerical analysis to handle actual business challenges in the industrial sector. 

The use of artificial intelligence and big data in the technology, finance, and manufacturing sectors in Indonesia still trails behind other developing countries. Understanding data-driven decision making is key, but somewhat lacking among Gen Z students.


Preparing Gen Z for Workplace 

Increasing digital skills and literacy should be the main focus for industry, government, and educational institutions. 

According to a 2016 World Bank report, Indonesia has been experiencing a shortage of 9 million semi-skilled and skilled workers for 15 years. To make up for the shortage, Indonesia has to produce approximately 600,000 digital talents every year.

If the Indonesian Gen Z cannot fill the position, these jobs will be given to skilled foreign labour. This is also reflected in research by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, which show that 85% of job requirements involve digital skills.

The private sector can play a role in eliminating the skill gap too by providing training and policies that support personal and career development.

Employers can also encourage Gen Z to voice their ideas and opinions. This helps build communication skills and can also have a positive impact on the business as it can provide a new perspective.

Preparing Gen Z for the workplace requires collaboration among the private sector, government, and academics. It can start with discussion forums, career development centres, and career guidance such as internships and research.

Find out more about Gen Z here: Kuliah Kerja Fest! 2021 Report

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