There is a lack of qualified mentors available in Indonesia to nurture and develop tech talent. Mentorships offer a number of benefits, but most pressingly it could help close the gap between the demand and supply of: 1.) Tech talent with niche or advanced skills, 2.) Tech talent in senior or managerial positions. Having practitioners as mentors can equip the mentees with higher-level tech and business skills that are often not found in educational programs. Moreover, the mentors themselves may benefit by improving their communications and leadership skills, both of which are essential to advance one's career.
Mentorship offers tech talent the opportunity to connect with a more experienced person, who can act as a sounding board and offer constructive feedback to help them further develop their skills and career. However, digital skills shortage in Indonesia means that there is a limited number of senior mentors who can offer guidance to junior tech talent in their areas of expertise. To ease the short-term hiring of skilled foreign workers, the recently issued Government Regulation No. 34 of 2021 on Foreign Workers Utilization and Ministry of Manpower Regulation No. 8 of 2021 on the Employment of Foreign Workers removed the requirement of obtaining a Foreign Worker Utilization Plan (Rencana Penggunaan Tenaga Kerja Asing, or RPTKA) approval from the Ministry of Manpower for technology startups seeking to hire foreign workers for less than three months. A fly-in, fly-out approach can help local tech startups access overseas mentors with specialized skills on a temporary basis.
At the same time, although a number of individual tech startups have implemented their own in-house tech mentorship and knowledge sharing programs, a specific government policy that promotes an industry-wide mentoring network is currently absent. This creates fragmentation in opportunities among junior tech talent, in particular those who are employed by smaller or less visible startups.
Stimulating demand for and improving access to mentoring both in DKI Jakarta - where the majority tech startups are based - and across the country can help to prepare the next generation of tech talent1. This can be achieved in several ways, for instance by recruiting and training practitioners to become volunteer mentors; articulating the benefits of mentoring to the industry and the individual careers of both the mentors and mentees; incentivizing and aligning with business-led mentoring programs (for example, by encouraging startups to develop volunteer tech mentoring programs as part of their human resource strategy); providing recognition for the contributions of mentors through monetary and non-monetary rewards; and facilitating access to remote or online mentoring to promote flexibility. While the government holds the crucial role of facilitating and creating the suitable enabling environment, it is crucial that tech talent mentoring is industry-led and not dictated by the government.
For many entrepreneurs, the decision to turn into innovations depends on the ease to adopt technology, trained workforces, and multiple sources of finance. Yet, navigating the complex regulation is a major challenge for most lay business people. To expedite the economic recovery post-pandemic recession, the stakeholders in the ecosystem are urged to formulate the right policy to simplify such challenges.