Indonesia at a Glance
Working in IndonesiaiStockphoto
The Indonesian economy increasingly benefits from local and foreign investments.
Working in Indonesia probably does not evoke images of tall skyscrapers filled to the brim with offices and busy people dressed in business attire. Instead, an image of white sandy beaches, lush green rolling hills and rice paddies, and lovely temples may come to mind. However, if you plan on working in Indonesia, do not despair, for there are many expats employed in Indonesia.
For its population size of more than 248 million, there is only a 6.6% rate of unemployment, which speaks for itself. Despite the rather hard-hitting Asian financial crisis of 1997, Indonesia’s economy recovered rather quickly and is still showing significant economic growth, a welcome indicator for those planning on or already working in Indonesia.
Working in Indonesia: An Economic Overview
The Indonesian economy relies heavily on domestic consumption, and it has seen increasing investment by local and foreign investors. Generally speaking, however, the economy is very mixed. The private sector and the government play a large role in the economy. The Indonesian government has implemented a long-term development plan for the future in order to stabilize economic growth. Its main goals are to reduce poverty, promote the quality of human resources, improve science and technology and strengthen economic competitiveness.
With a gross domestic product of nearly 1.14 trillion USD, Indonesia is a member of the G-20 major economies. Jakarta is Indonesia’s largest export center in part due to its many ports and its proximity to Asia and Australia. In fact, the Port of Jakarta is not only Indonesia’s largest seaport, but one of the largest ports in the entire Java Sea basin.
Indonesia’s main industries are petroleum and gas, textiles and apparel, footwear, mining, cement, chemical fertilizers, plywood, rubber, food, and, of course, tourism. Originally with a much larger labor force employed in the agricultural sector, Indonesia has moved towards the services sector (now 49% of the Indonesian work force). Yet, the agricultural sector remains strong, with almost 40% of those working in Indonesia employed in the agribusiness or subsistence farming.
Working in Indonesia: Work Opportunities
Most expats working in Indonesia are employed by foreign companies, teach English, or work in the export sector. As getting a visa for working in Indonesia is not the easiest step in the moving process, it is truly the foreign companies that are an expat’s best bet for working in Indonesia. The highly productive export sector deals mainly with oil and gas exports.
If you are thinking of working in Indonesia and don’t know where to begin your search, Jakarta is not a bad start. As the capital is not only the financial hub of Indonesia, Jakarta’s industry also includes the electronics, automotive, chemical, and biomedical as well as mechanical engineering sectors. They all offer many opportunities for working in Indonesia.
Otherwise, especially younger expats working in Indonesia do so as English teachers. There are quite a few jobs for expatriates who are certified either in English as a Second Language (ESL) or in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
There are some reputable job sites for Indonesia, such as the recruitment agency Jobs DB, Job Street, or Workster, which is geared specifically towards expats. They can be useful in finding work before you go to Indonesia.
Working in Indonesia: Work Visas
It is quite difficult to obtain a valid work visa if you consider working in Indonesia. It is best if you find an employer before entering the country, as he/she will be able to facilitate your visa application. In addition, unfortunately for foreign nationals keen on working in Indonesia, most Indonesian companies have a policy of prioritizing local applicants.
As you can read in the article on Moving to Indonesia, a business visa is most common for people planning on doing business here. However, there are two problems concerning this visa: First of all, this visa cannot be used for working in Indonesia, but only to conduct business, i.e. a project or visit, and secondly, it is valid only for 60 days.
Since most people planning on working in Indonesia tend to do so for longer than said period, they have to apply for a different visa. The IMTA is a work permit given to Indonesian companies which enables them to hire foreigners. It is thus virtually impossible for expats to find work in Indonesia without the help of a potential employer.