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How to build a skills-based people strategy: Skilling landscape in Indonesia
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How to build a skills-based people strategy: Skilling landscape in Indonesia

From the challenges you may face to the advice on implementing skills programmes that touch every workforce demographic, senior HR leaders talk us through the skilling landscape in Indonesia. All the highlights from a recent panel discussion organised by Workday, and moderated by HRO’s Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Bring together respected and highly-experienced HR leaders in the room (albeit virtually), and magic happens! Human Resources Online’s Aditi Sharma Kalra had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion recently, organised by Workday, on the topic: ‘Build, Buy or Borrow Talent – What’s your skilling strategy?’, featuring:

  • Anton Hendrianto, Head of People Development & Culture, Bank Muamalat Indonesia & Executive Director, Muamalat Institute
  • Sri Rejeki Dharmadi, Head of Corporate HR, Metrodata Electronics

In this article, we’ve pulled together some of the key insights distilled from the conversation to dive-deep into Indonesia’s skilling landscape – the challenges faced and overcome, the highlights & lowlights of the journey, and the path forward. Read on for the conversation excerpts.

#1: The state of the skills strategy: Where do priorities lie?

In a spot poll, more than half of the event attendees said they do have a satisfactory skills framework in place, while less than one in five (17%) don't currently have a skills framework. About a quarter (27%) said that it’s either in the pipeline or it’s not as formally instituted as they would like it to be yet. Our panelists certainly fall into the category of having a solid skilling strategy in place.

For this segment, the key priorities are to develop technological capabilities, adapt, and creatively take the opportunities that exist – in addition to reskilling staff in alignment with the business strategy, almost like going “back to basics”.

What’s also important in this pandemic environment is to focus on productivity – where HR and business data are being combined in order to derive predictive insights that can play into performance. The panelists agreed that this is critical as it allows HR to speak the same language as the business.

#2: Build, buy or borrow: What’s the preferred skilling strategy?

For organisations in Indonesia, a typical ratio of talent groomed in-house versus external talent is 80:20, in other words, 80% of talent is ‘built’, while 20% is ‘bought or borrowed’. To achieve this high in-house target, 8-12 man-days are likely to be allocated for training per employee each year – interestingly, almost equivalent to the annual leave & wellness days.

For the first pillar, i.e. building talent, several accelerated development programmes must be in place, all the way from the early stages to senior levels, to keep up with the business’ demands. Among the several ideas put forward, our speakers told us about:

  • A 12-month accelerated programmes that grooms service staff into sales staff;
  • A fast-track programme for junior employees to accelerate into managerial & leadership roles; and
  • Special pathways for those who don’t have the inclination for people leadership, such as technical consultants and specialists.

One mantra that guides all these programmes is that learning can happen anywhere and learning anytime.

In the past, when learning was still done in the classroom, it was restricted to limited participants. But with e-learning, opportunities have opened up to the majority of the workforce.

Coming to the second pillar, i.e. buying talent, a strategy especially useful to grow much-needed industry-specific or time-sensitive skills (such as digital expertise). Knowledge sharing is made possible with programmes such as secondments that enable sharing of wisdom and experience.

Finally, the third pillar, i.e. borrowing talent, typically used to tap into a pool of consultants, as well as especially useful in accessing young talent through internship, apprenticeship, and more.

#3: Source for skilling data: Who needs development in what?

In order to determine employees’ current and future capability for each level and position, employers are using a matrixed competency approach. This can indicate exactly what kind of development a person needs, not only in skills, but also competencies such communication and leadership.

Technology plays an important role in churning out these insights, especially when both lead and lag indicators are fed into the system for optimum data analysis. What employers look out for are platforms that are easy to access, user-friendly, and provide all insights in one single dashboard, including insights generated by combining talent data with business data. Not only does this result in the generation of perspective, but more importantly, predictive analytics.

#4: Freshly groomed: Programmes for developing top talent

In our conversations, several ideas emerged about programmes that can effectively build required skill sets within the workforce. Some of them include:

  • Coaching: Whether you use an app or a face-to-face approach, the coach-coachee relationship can thrive beyond just line managers and their staff.
  • Video library: Netflix-style learning catalogues are becoming increasingly popular with modules often going into the thousands, given staff a plethora of choices.
  • Marketplace: An interaction-driven online community where retired staff can showcase their products, services and knowledge that staff can select and ‘purchase’ using their learning credits.

#5: Overcoming challenges: How do you sail past skilling barriers?

The first challenge highlighted in the conversation was the fact that, with the world always changing, it’s getting harder to encourage employees to not only accept but adapt to change. Leaders are tackling this by ensuring quality and in-depth training content is constantly available on employees’ fingertips.

Secondly, the important of sharing experiences and hearing from senior leaders cannot be underlined enough. As such, getting top management involved, through storytelling or real-world technical simulations, can guarantee high participation rates.

Making a certain portion of training mandatory is an important step in ensuring adoption.

What equally helps is another ‘m’, that of mentoring. When employees have a buddy system in place, knowledge sharing is certain to happen as they bounce real-world problems off each other.

#6 Screen fatigue: Real or myth?

Definitely real, say our experts – but that doesn’t mean they haven’t devised workarounds for it. If you find your workforce tired of constantly being placed behind a screen, make sure you’ve exhausted the following checklist:

  • The training platform must be user-friendly with minimum steps for employees to kickstart their learning journey.
  • Get your management & Board of Directors involved in training courseware – be it as a key programme sponsor or simply as actors in the L&D promotional video, having known, respected faces leading by example will surely pique more interest.
  • Apply a ‘softer’ approach towards change management. Ensure that employees know “what’s in it for me?” - as an individual, team, department, or as a union member. Highlighting the purpose and mindset drives home the point about upskilling constantly to remain relevant.


Amidst all the talk of upskilling, we didn’t shy away from asking our speakers about some of the new skills and learnings that they have learnt during this challenging period.

Move over traditional VUCA, and get ready for the new VUCA – vision, understanding, clarity, and agility, as dubbed by the leaders. The new VUCA is more centred around resilient and spirited leadership that requires innovation & creativity every single day.

Secondly, have the will to win, they urge their peers. Stay adaptive and ensure that your workforce is constantly building the three most important industry-agnostic skill sets: tech-savviness, flexibility & adaptability, and creativity & innovation.

Lead photo / 123RF

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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