Authors: Tuhu Nugraha and Rosaria Mita Amalia*
Amidst the rapidly changing job market, University Career Centers in Indonesia face a significant challenge regarding the mismatch between the skills of college graduates and the needs of the industry. Data from the Ministry of Labor (Kemnaker) for 2023 and the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) for August 2022 reveal a concerning picture of unemployment among university graduates. According to Kemnaker, about 12% of total unemployment in Indonesia, or approximately 2.5 million people, are fresh graduates with bachelor’s and diploma degrees. Meanwhile, BPS data shows that out of 8.43 million openly unemployed individuals in Indonesia, about 673,000 or 8% are university graduates (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD).
The Challenges of University Career Centre
The challenge for higher education institutions in Indonesia arises from several factors. Firstly, there’s a gap between the higher education curriculum taught in universities and the evolving needs and developments of the industry. Many higher education institutions have not fully adapted to technological advancements and the emergence of new skill requirements in the job market. Secondly, there is a deficiency in providing practical skills and soft skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and effective communication, which are increasingly sought after by employers. This mismatch creates challenges for graduates entering an increasingly competitive and dynamic job market, widening the gap between education and industry needs, and leading to an increase in unemployment among fresh graduates.
This situation is exacerbated by the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which not only triggers changes in skill demand but also renders many traditional jobs irrelevant. In facing this increasingly complex job landscape, AI becomes a vital instrument in the transformation of career counselling services. AI offers more personalized, accurate, efficient, and accessible guidance, aligned with current job market needs and trends, as a strategic solution to address this skill mismatch. The skill gap between college graduates and industry needs is not unique to Indonesia but is an issue affecting many developing countries. Factors such as rapid technological development, changing job market demands, and an education system that may not align with current industry needs often complicate this challenge.
In developing countries, this challenge is aggravated by higher youth unemployment rates and technological changes that outpace the ability of educational institutions to adapt. Furthermore, there’s a notable discrepancy between what employers expect and the competencies that graduates bring to the table. This gap is underscored by employers’ growing demand for soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and communication, in addition to the technical competencies traditionally valued. This observation is supported by insights from several key sources. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “The Future of Jobs” report delves into the shifts in skill requirements driven by technological advancements and automation. Similarly, UNESCO’s data on education and skills provides an analysis of how education systems worldwide are responding to the changing needs of the job market. Moreover, surveys and studies from McKinsey & Company frequently publish findings on the skills of the future and the skill gaps, with a particular focus on developing countries. These sources collectively highlight the evolving landscape of employer expectations and the imperative for educational institutions to adapt accordingly.
AI for Career Counselling
The involvement of AI in career counselling is a game-changer. Utilizing vast amounts of data, AI algorithms can provide individualized career guidance that aligns with each student’s strengths, preferences, and passion. This approach ensures that advice is not only relevant but also personally resonant. AI, with its ability to process extensive datasets, enables insights into the labour market with unprecedented precision. This empowers students to make informed decisions about their career paths with confidence. AI-based services can be accessed digitally, breaking down geographical and time barriers. This democratizes career counselling, making it available to every student, anytime, anywhere. By leveraging real-time data on industry trends and job market demands, AI equips students with the knowledge to navigate future skill requirements and adapt to changing job landscapes.
For University Career Centres in Indonesia, integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology begins with collaboration between educational institutions, technology startups, and the academic community to develop locally relevant solutions. Initiatives could include creating AI training modules and workshops for staff and students to foster a conducive environment for technology adoption.
Challenging Faced by University
Adopting AI technology in career counselling at Indonesian universities presents significant challenges, particularly regarding data privacy, the need for adequate digital infrastructure, human resource (HR) competence, and data governance. First, data privacy is a major concern because using AI requires collecting, storing, and analysing students’ personal data. This poses risks to students’ data security and privacy that must be strictly protected. Strict data protection measures, including data encryption and controlled access policies, are crucial to mitigate these risks. Second, a robust digital infrastructure is essential for effective AI implementation. This includes up-to-date hardware and software, as well as stable and fast internet networks, allowing for real-time processing of large data sets. Significant investment in information technology (IT) on campus is necessary to build and maintain this infrastructure. Third, HR competence in understanding AI is key to the successful adoption of this technology. Not only are developers and data analysts capable of designing and implementing AI solutions needed, but also career counselling staff who understand how to use this technology to provide better services. Capacity development through training and continuing education for university staff is very important. Fourth, data governance in Indonesia still faces various obstacles, including regulations that do not fully support the use of data for innovation and the lack of clear standards related to data collection, storage, and use. This complicates universities’ efforts to manage data efficiently and securely, as well as to utilize data for the development of AI-based career counselling services.
Overall, these challenges require a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving the government, educational institutions, industry, and technology experts to create an ecosystem that supports the safe, ethical, and effective adoption of AI in university career counselling. Integrating AI into career counselling represents a significant leap for University Career Centres in Indonesia. By providing personalized, data-based, and easily accessible guidance, AI can play a crucial role in bridging the skill gap between graduates and the evolving industry needs.
To optimize the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in university career counselling, a pentahelix model collaboration involving the government, industry, academia, society, and the media is necessary. Initiatives like the Artificial Intelligence Industry Research & Innovation Collaboration (KORIKA) are key, uniting academia and industry to advance AI applications, with regulatory and funding support from the government. The industry plays a role in providing insights into skill needs and the latest technology, while society and the media increase awareness and support for the use of AI in education.
This collaboration allows universities to access the latest research and technological resources, ensuring that the career counselling services provided are aligned with the current job market dynamics and industry needs. Thus, students can be better prepared to face future employment challenges, reducing the skill mismatch between graduates and the job market. This cooperation among all parties not only strengthens the education and industry ecosystem in Indonesia but also ensures that higher education remains relevant to the times. Through continuous innovation and adaptation, Indonesian students will be better prepared to face rapid and complex changes in the job market, supporting economic growth and innovation in the future.
*Rosaria Mita Amalia, Head of the Career Development Center at Padjadjaran University, Vice President of the Indonesia Career Center Network (ICCN)