Education has been identified as a focal point in the Australian government’s Blueprint for Trade and Investment in Indonesia.
The Blueprint aims to help Australian companies grow commercial links and develop new opportunities following the start of the Indonesia – Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA).
According to the education chapter authors, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online education, while President Joko Widodo has talked of the importance of “human capital development”.
AIC Executive Director Dr Eugene Sebastian said the centre contributed as a member of the Business Reference Group and as author of the education skills and training chapter, accepting an invitation from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“AIC’s involvement recognises the centre’s contribution to the bilateral relations – especially our active promotion of a contemporary understanding of each other and growing the people-to-people links in science, research and education,” Dr Sebastian said.
Dr Sebastian said education was crucial to the bilateral relationship.
“Tackling a widening skills gap and preparing for the jobs of the future are Indonesia’s top priorities,” he said.
“By 2030, Indonesia will need 57 million skilled workers. To meet this goal, Indonesia will need to partner with others to handle the scale of its aspirations. Our geography, history, reputation, and other institutional alignments put us in a unique position to participate.”
In launching the Blueprint, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said establishing broader and stronger partnerships in Indonesia would “enhance post-pandemic economic recovery”.
He said the two largest economies in Southeast Asia now had a trade agreement (IA-CEPA) and the Blueprint which “complements and supports our shared interest in fostering a secure and prosperous region.”
Dr Sebastian said the Blueprint sent significant messages.
“First, COVID-19 pandemic is increasing opportunities for innovative technology solutions that can raise the quality of teaching and achieve better learning outcomes,” he said.
He noted Indonesia required additional skills at national, sectoral and subnational levels, with all supported by development plans, regulations, and thematic roadmaps in some cases.
He also identified strategic partnerships, joint ventures and consortia as commercial options for education providers.
“Looking into the future and the scale of the challenge, the consortia model might have the greatest upside for both Indonesia and Australia,” Dr Sebastian said.
AIC Indonesia Director Kevin Evans said Australia was in the “box seat” to provide education in Indonesia.
“When Indonesians think of their education and training needs so often Australia is the first place that comes to their mind,” Mr Evans said.
“To remain the country’s top partner, we need to continue to innovate and create fresh forms of partnership and delivery including through new digital delivery systems.
“The IA-CEPA certainly offers some valuable tools to help advance this partnership in education and training.”
The Minister said the Blueprint outlines several sectors where the two countries can work together.
“The Blueprint highlights opportunities for Australian business in health and aged care, agriculture and food, education and training and resources and energy services,” Mr Tehan said,
According to the Blueprint document, “enormous investment” is required to help Indonesia capitalise on its demographic advantage of a young, growing and urbanising population.