On Thursday (16/6/2022), the Lembaga Kajian untuk Pengembangan Pendidikan, Sosial, Agama, dan Budaya (INFEST) Yogyakarta Foundation coordinated the Strengthening Vocational High Schools (SMK) Program to Prevent Exploitative Recruitment. The program is a collaboration between INFEST Yogyakarta Foundation and the Office ofEducation, Youth, and Sports (Disdikpora) with the support of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA).
The meeting took place at the office of Disdikpora Wonosobo Regency and served as a follow-up to the program planning meeting held in February 2022. The attendees included the Head of Disdikpora Wonosobo Regency, Tono Prihatono, the Head of the Program and Development Division at Disdikpora, Lintang Esti Pramanasari, the Chairperson of the Working Forum of Vocational School Principals (MKKS) in Wonosobo, Suyanto, and the representative from the Regional Branch of the 9th District of Central Java, Sri Kuncoro.
In his opening remarks, Prihantono expressed that this program is crucial, especially for teachers in preparing students before they enter the workplace. Although vocational schools (SMK) are no longer under the jurisdiction of the regency government but the provincial government, Tono emphasised that students attending SMK in the Wonosobo Regency are still the responsibility of the regency government.
“SMK graduates are designed to be ready for work. Therefore, in addition to skills, SMK students need to know and understand decent work, rights, and responsibilities,” explained Tono Prihantono.
Sofwan Hadi, the Program Manager of INFEST Yogyakarta Foundation, mentioned that vocational schools ideally play a role in equipping their graduates with knowledge about decent work, ethical recruitment practices in the labour market, and preparing them to avoid exploitative recruitment.
After the program planning meeting in February 2022, INFEST Foundation began working on a draft manual on decent work as teaching material to enhance the capacity of SMK teachers. In addition to strengthening the capacity of SMK teachers, INFEST Yogyakarta Foundation also planned to conduct research titled “Understanding the Recruitment Practices of SMK Graduates in Central Java.”
Wonosobo Regency and Kendal Regency would be the research locations representing the Central Java region. These two areas were chosen for the research because they provide sufficient representation of domestic and international job seekers. In fact, Kendal has been designated as a Special Economic Zone, which allows for attracting local labour from SMK graduates.
Both Disdikpora and MKKS of Wonosobo Regency appreciated and fully supported all planned activities. During the meeting, they agreed on the timing and various requirements needed for the implementation of the program. In addition, Suyanto provided input to ensure that the program can be implemented as expected.
The representative from the 9th District Regional Branch, Sri Kuncoro, proposed the utilisation of the teaching materials to be developed in the following academic year. They also suggested that INFEST Yogyakarta Foundation build synergy with the 9th District Regional Branch to enhance the effectiveness of program implementation.