Reforming Indonesia’s labor migration system can help access better paid jobs and improve protections for Indonesians working abroad, says a new World Bank report.
The study, entitled Indonesia’s Global Workers: Juggling Opportunities and Risks, suggests that transforming labor migration into a professional and modern sector on par with other sectors of the economy, and incorporating international labor migration into a broader job creation strategy.
“Becoming a migrant worker is the right for any Indonesian citizen. It should not be the last resort to find a job. It should be a competitive option for Indonesia’s growing workforce. By professionally managing labor migration, we can assist migrant workers to access good jobs and improve their protections while abroad and it is the Government’s obligation to facilitate this,” said M. Hanif Dhakiri, Minister of Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia.
The Indonesian government has made progress including a law on the protection of Indonesian workers abroad which was recently passed by Parliament, also the ‘productive migrant worker village’ program in rural areas.
Indonesian migrant workers who work abroad earn on average four to six times more than in Indonesia. Remittances sent home improve the welfare of their families, while the new skills acquired help them find better jobs on their return. Strengthening the migration system can further improve their job prospects while mitigating risks associated with working overseas. Reform could improve enforcement of labor contracts, provide a safer workplace, and ensure personal safety and well-being.
“Labor migration benefits Indonesians working abroad and their families back home. Reforming migration policies and programs would maximize these benefits and minimize the risks to migrants,” said Rodrigo A. Chaves, World Bank Country Director for Indonesia. “Indonesia can implement reforms to strengthen the migrants’ contributions to shared prosperity in the country”.
The report’s recommendations include:
- Creating a professional job marketplace by strengthening the skills of migrant workers in response to overseas demands and standards, and improving transparency in the overseas job market.
- Streamlining the documentation and pre-departure processes.
- Improving protection for workers abroad through legally binding bilateral agreements and ramping up the use of labor attachés in destination countries.
- Sustaining the benefits of migration and remittances by facilitating the re-integration of migrants into the local labor market and encouraging longer-term investments, such as in education and health.
- Increasing coordination among institutions involved in the migration process.
In 2016, over 9 million Indonesians were working overseas. They represented almost 7 percent of the country’s labor force. That year, migrant workers sent over IDR 118 trillion ($8.9 billion) back to Indonesia in remittances, or about one percent of the country’s total GDP.
The report was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.