Bridging the Digital Divide: Skill Our Future Platforms to Empower Indonesian Youth

March 28, 2024

Indonesia is home to a vibrant young population, with 64.16 million individuals aged between 16 and 30, comprising 23.18% of the nation's population. Youth is one of the keys to leveraging the demographic bonus to realize Indonesia's vision to become a developed country in 2045. However, despite this demographic advantage, many young Indonesians need help accessing essential technology and digital skills crucial for success in today's rapidly evolving job market. Rural residents and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately affected, grappling with limited access to computers and the Internet. Even among those with access to technology, digital literacy skills still need to be improved, hindering their ability to leverage these tools for job searching and career advancement.

According to BPS data for 2023, 25.80% of Indonesian youth are classified as NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), with female youth facing double the unemployment rate compared to their male counterparts. This underscores the urgent need to address the digital skills gap and empower young Indonesians to thrive in the digital era. The Indonesian government has targeted producing 9 million digital talents by 2030, equating to an average of 600 thousand digital workers annually.

To meet this ambitious goal and ensure no one is left behind, the Skill Our Future program, Led by UNDP and Microsoft, aims to democratize access to digital skills, artificial intelligence (AI), and employment opportunities for young people, including those from underserved communities. It provides them comprehensive digital skills development, job placement assistance, and career guidance.

Savinda Ranathunga, Regional Youth Project Manager UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, emphasized the significance of collaboration in tackling the challenges faced by Indonesian youth, stating, "Through collaborative efforts, we aspire to forge significant pathways for youth to flourish in the digital era, particularly in Indonesia, aligning with the Vision of Advanced Indonesia 2045. In this vision, young people play a pivotal role in harnessing the demographic dividend. By synergizing our platforms, we aim to support the Indonesian government in cultivating a larger digital talent pool.”

The platform launch event on 20 March 2023 in Jakarta brought together over 50 stakeholders, including government bodies, NGOs, universities, vocational schools, and youth communities, highlighting the importance of collaboration in addressing the digital divide. Skill Our Future Indonesia has two platforms: for self-paced learning activities and for job readiness activities that connect the youth to more than 1,000 job opportunities.

Supporting the activities, Manju Dhasmana, Asia Regional Director, Microsoft Philanthropies reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to supporting Indonesia's national agenda on digital skills democratization, stating, "At Microsoft Philanthropies, we believe that equipping young people with digital skills is critical to unlocking their potential and shaping a brighter future in the Asia-Pacific region. This collaboration with UNDP is a significant step in bridging the digital skills gap and empowering young communities who are underserved. By providing the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in the digital era, our goal is to not only improve their employability but also drive innovation and build a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.”

The event also provided a platform for youth voices to be heard. Nissi Taruli Felicia, a hearing-impaired participant, shared her perspective on the program's potential to empower women and individuals with disabilities. "Skill Our Future has the potential to break down barriers and create equal opportunities for all youth, regardless of their background or abilities," she remarked.

Skill Our Future is a regional program that aims to democratise access to digital skills, artificial intelligence (AI) and employment opportunities for young people, including those from underserved communities targeting 2,000,000 youth across Asia Pacific in 2023 - 2026. In Indonesia. The program aims to reach 400,000 Indonesian youth, with 40,000 in 2024, providing them with the necessary training, certification, and job readiness activities to succeed in the digital era.

Through strategic collaborations with universities, vocational schools, and youth communities, the program seeks to empower underserved youth and bridge the digital divide, ensuring that every young Indonesian has the opportunity to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

UNDP Indonesia has aimed to empower regional youth for six years to drive SDG implementation. It focuses on youth leadership, fostering inclusive societies, and combating discrimination through social innovation and community mobilization in collaboration with many local, national, and international stakeholders.