Pre-employment Card Under Fire
The Pre-employment Card Program’s implementation has been far from smooth. Transactions for training come to over Rp120 billion.
TWO weeks after 24-year-old Dewi Hurriyah was laid off, she finally had a reason to be happy. On April 15, the Surabaya resident in East Java and former staff of an employment agency for overseas migrant workers was notified that she had qualified for the first-stage Pre-Employment Card Program. She was even given a Pre-Employment Card number. “But one day later, when I opened the Pre-Employment Card website, my status had been changed to unqualified,” Dewi told Tempo on April 29.
She then called Pre-Employment Card’s customer service for an explanation. According to Dewi, the customer service staff on the other end said it was not certain that she would qualify if she had not received a message sent to her cellular phone. The person recommended that she try again in the next stage. But once again, Dewi failed to qualify. As of May 1, she was still waiting for the third-stage selection results.
Bonnie Kertaredja, who twice attempted to receive Pre-Employment Card benefits, had a smiilar experience. The visually impaired woman was at first hoping to receive additional incentives from the Pre-Employment Card, especially when her income from selling electricity tokens and cell phone minutes had drastically plummeted since the government began subsidizing electricity for poor citizens. The 54-year-old woman had trouble completing filling out her personal information and taking the interest and knowledge test. “The system is complicated, it’s difficult for those with physical limitations,” she said.
The Pre-Employment Card Program, which was flaunted by President Joko Widodo during the 2019 presidential campaign, is meant to help the unemployed. At first, the Rp10-trillion program was meant for 3 million participants. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the program was transformed into a social aid program for citizens impacted by the pandemic, with a budget of Rp20 trillion for 5.6 million participants. Recipients of the program’s benefits are to receive Rp600,000 over four months, online training at a value of Rp1 million, and a survey payment of Rp150,000. As many as 168,111 people are recorded to have passed the first stage, and 288,154 people passed the second stage.
Agustinus Edy, founder of the news site Gresnews, was among those who passed the second-stage application process. When filling out his bio, he claimed he was still working and that his business was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Edy did not suspect that he would pass the selection process because he was required to submit his citizenship registration number and a selfie. “If the verification process was running well, I would have been disqualified since the start,” he said.
Edy says he only wanted to test his suspicion that the Pre-Employment Card was no more than content sales and purchase transactions using the state budget. He bought a journalism training package for writing news reports at Rp220,000 from the Skill Academy, with 11 training videos at a duration of around one hour. Before he finished watching the videos, he was able to take a test and receive a certificate of excellence signed by Ruangguru CEO Adamas Belva Syah Devara. In 7x24 hours, the Rp600,000 incentive was able to be liquidated. Edy also felt that the training did not effectively improve his writing skill.
Later on, Prita Kusumaputri, the journalism course’s instructor, asked Ruangguru to withdraw her training videos because they were made for personal learning purposes, not for the Pre-Employment Card program. “There was no notification that the videos would be part of the Pre-Employment Card,” she said. According to Prita, the videos were made three times before the Pre-Employment Card program went into motion in late 2019.
Ruangguru Public Relations Chief Sekar Krisnauli says the certificates issued by the Skill Academy are in line with the rules of the Pre-Employment Card program’s management. According to her, the Skill Academy issues two types of certificates, a completion certificate and a excellence certificate. “Agustinus only has a certificate of excellence because he has completed the final exam, not a certificate of completion because he has not completed all of the (course’s) material,” said Sekar.
According to Communications Director of the Pre-Employment Card Program’s Implementation, Panji Winanteya Ruky, Edy passed selection for the general public group. When Edy applied, said Panji, he declared himself as an entrepreneur impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. “So, (he got) higher priority in the randomization of the general public group of the second wave,” he said.
The Pre-Employment Card Program has drawn criticism since registration opened on April 11 due to the government’s partnership with eight digital platforms before the partnership had a legal umbrella. On March 20, witnessed by Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto, Pre-Employment Card management signed an MoU with Skill Academy, an education technology company under Ruangguru, owned by Adamas Belva Syah Devara, a former member of President Jokowi’s special staff.
But the legal basis that regulates the details of the partnership was only issued one week later, namely through Coordinating Minister for the Economy Regulation No. 3/2020 on the implementation of the Presidential regulation on job competency development. The value of the Pre-Employment Card’s training program comes to Rp5.6 trillion.
In fact, the digital partnership was already in discussion since last year. On April 15, Belva tweeted that, “The Pre-Employment program’s policy was already in place before I joined the special staff.” Six days after the tweet, Belva announced his resignation from the Presidential special staff.
Panji denies that the eight partners were directly appointed. “These are partnerships, not appointments. The people are also allowed to choose the training course according to their wishes,” he said. According to Panji, the coronavirus forced the government to move quickly. In the future, he explained, the number of training providers will continue to grow as recipients of the Pre-Employment Card also grow in number.
Based on the coordinating ministry for the economy data, as of last week, as many as 231,000 of the program’s 456,000 participants had already bought a training course. The transaction value has reached Rp120.73 billion, with an average daily transaction value of Rp520,000. The data has been confirmed by an administrator of a training provider. Panji, however, did not offer his comment on the data. Neither did Minister Airlanggo Hartanto answer our request for a response. He has not answered our phone calls nor replied to our text messages.