Indonesia at a Glance
Working in Indonesia
- Indonesia’s economy is quite mixed and the service sector is one of the biggest; many expats find jobs as English teachers or in tourism.
- Business etiquette is different from Western countries and you should be aware of it.
- Indonesia’s taxation system is rather complicated and it is advisable to contact your local chamber of commerce for more information, also in regard to tax treaties.
Working in Indonesia probably does not evoke images of tall skyscrapers filled with offices and busy people dressed in business attire. Instead, an image of white sandy beaches, lush green rolling hills, rice paddies, and artistic temples may come to mind. However, do not despair, as finding a job in Indonesia might be challenging, but not impossible.
For its population size of over 259 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. This is a welcoming indicator for those planning on or already working in Indonesia.
First Impressions of Indonesia’s Economy
The Indonesian economy relies heavily on domestic consumption, and this sphere has seen increasing investment by local and foreign investors. Generally speaking, however, the economy is very mixed, with both the private sector and the government play a large role. 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 1.3 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 and the Growing Service Sector
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, in recent years, Indonesia has moved towards the services sector (now around 45% of the Indonesian work force).
The agricultural sector still remains strong, however, with almost 41% of those working in Indonesia employed in agribusiness or subsistence farming. The remainder of jobs are in the industrial sector.
Your Job Opportunities in Indonesia
Most expats in Indonesia are employed by foreign companies, teach English, or work in the export sector. As getting a working visa is not the easiest step in the moving process, foreign companies are an expat’s best bet for being able to work in Indonesia. See our Moving to Indonesia article for more information on Indonesian work visas.
If you are thinking of working in Indonesia and don’t know where to begin your search, Jakarta is not a bad place to start. The capital is not only the financial hub of Indonesia, but it is also home to many important industries. Job opportunities abound in the electronics, automotive, chemical, and biomedical as well as mechanical engineering sectors.
Younger expats in particular tend to find jobs working in Indonesia 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 agencies Jobs DB, Job Street, or Workster, which are geared specifically towards expats. They can be useful in finding work before you go to Indonesia.
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