Better working skills for Indonesians

Special mobile units will help poor families in rural areas raise their standard of living

IN A move to alleviate poverty and raise labour standards, President Suharto has launched a special programme to equip Indonesians with better working skills.

Speaking at the programme’s launch on Tuesday, he said that the “mobile training units”, which will travel around the country in 370 vans, will be aimed at distributing economic wealth in Indonesia.

“This programme aims to help poor families in rural areas raise their standard of living,” he said.

By improving their labour skills, it would be easier for people to find jobs and raise their income levels.

Mr Suharto noted that the programme, offered in all 27 provinces except Jakarta, would also help stem the flow of Indonesians from rural areas to the cities to look for jobs as they could work in their own villages.

Manpower Minister Abdul Latief said that existing vocational training programmes encouraged people to look for jobs in the cities as they did not meet the needs in rural areas.

He said that the training units would equip people with skills needed for fruit processing, fishing, tailoring, handicraft, and repairing electronic goods.

“It is the first of its kind in the world,” he said, adding that instructors from his ministry will stay at least two weeks in each village they visit. “The people will be trained according to their talents and market demand.”

Funding for the US$25-million (S$36-million) programme is provided through a soft loan from the South Korean government under a bilateral pact.

Yayasan Dana Sejahtera Mandiri, a foundation chaired by President Suharto which focuses on helping the poor, also pledged to give another 400 vehicles to the programme.

It is part of the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty in the country where at least 22.5 million people were living in poverty last year.

Mr Suharto had said last month that the government was determined to eradicate poverty by the end of Indonesia’s Seventh Five-Year Development Programme in 2004.

He also said on Tuesday that the country had to develop its human resources to face the challenges of the 21st century.

He said the Indonesian labour force had to raise its standards to match that of other countries. Besides having vocational training programmes, the government would ensure that more skilled labourers were sent overseas to gain working exposure.

“We need to improve the quality of our human resources so that we can meet international standards,” he said.

The government said last year that it intended to send workers skilled in areas such as construction, shipping, nursing, hotels and the service industry overseas.

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