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Vietnam to surpass Indonesia if we do nothing: Jokowi

Jakarta Globe - January 15, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Monday that Vietnam could be more prosperous than Indonesia if Jakarta failed to invest in its human capital.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) data shows Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita stood at $5,110 as of 2023. For comparison, Vietnam's GDP per capita reached around $4,320 that year. Considering the Vietnam War only ended 30 years after Indonesia's independence, Jakarta should have an edge as it could start developing its economy much earlier, according to Jokowi.

"Vietnam is picking up its speed. ... If we are just monotonous and let our guard down, Vietnam will surpass us soon. And we wouldn't want this to happen," Jokowi said, speaking before university rectors in Surabaya.

Aside from GDP per capita, Indonesia is still falling far behind Vietnam when it comes to master's or doctorate graduates. The lack of highly educated people can set a roadblock to Indonesia's goal of becoming an advanced economy.

"I too am surprised. For instance, only 0.45 percent of Indonesia's productive population have master's or doctoral degrees. The [master's and doctor's graduates] proportion already stood at around 2.43 percent in our neighbors Vietnam and Malaysia. The proportion reaches 9.8 percent in advanced countries," Jokowi said.

According to Jokowi, Vietnam has well-designed university-industrial linkages. This allows universities to generate graduates that the local industries truly need.

"A Vietnamese private company has 2,400 researchers. That shows how they [Vietnam] really pay attention to research," Jokowi, who had just returned from Hanoi, said.

The National Statistics Agency (BPS) census shows that Indonesia is home to 270.2 million people as of 2020. As many as 70.72 percent of Indonesia's population are of productive age (15-64 years old).

However, many university students are struggling to find jobs in Indonesia. A 2021 Manpower Ministry report revealed that Indonesia had around 8.7 million unemployed people. About 999,543 of those unemployed were university graduates. The report combined those with bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees. About 161,421 university graduates were unemployed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/vietnam-to-surpass-indonesia-if-we-do-nothing-jokow