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Unicorns and Millennials’ Aspirations

Ditulis oleh :
Aninda Dewayanti (Penerima Bakrie Graduate Fellowship Rajaratnam School for International Studies Nanyang Technological University 2017)

The term unicorn became a trending topic after the latest presidential candidate debate. Both candidates voiced support for unicorns through tax cuts, infrastructure and business friendly regulations. Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, however, mentioned the potential for wider economic disparities and capital outflows because of the unicorns’ expansion. Yet today’s most important task is to link Industry 4.0 with job creation among educated youths in Indonesia.

Millennials, who are people aged between 20 and 35 years old, account for 24 percent of Indonesia’s population, or 63.4 million people. The economic aspirations of millennials matter. As ISEAS researcher Budi Irawanto points out, their unique behavior as strategic voters makes them highly likely to determine the outcome of elections.

Educated millennials might perceive the economy differently. The Economist coined the term “millennial socialism” to identify those who demand more equality yet do not entirely oppose the market economy. Meanwhile, those in Europe who reject Brexit do not neglect the importance of being economically integrated for more access to jobs and education.

Both candidates should be aware of their uniqueness in perceiving economic policies and how it would affect wealth creation in this demographic segment. Citing Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data, former finance minister Chatib Basri expressed concern over educated youth unemployment. It has been said that those with higher education, particularly from senior high school and upwards, are lacking in job opportunities. Could unicorns be a solution?

In the Indonesian context, we have seen new opportunities when new entrepreneurship trends emerge. There are those who would rather take the initiative, create their own space to channel their creativity and market it online. A survey by IDN Research Institute found that seven out of 10 millennials in 12 cities in Indonesia were aiming to be entrepreneurs.

Economic incentives are necessary to support them, especially those with the capacity to recruit young talent. Go-Jek, for instance, has facilitated the development of social capital through human resource allocation and business partnerships. Bukalapak, an online commerce platform, has promoted #BukaJalanPulang (“pave the way home”) to attract highly skilled Indonesian talent from overseas. This snowball method of providing jobs builds the skills of youngsters in facing the country’s demographic bonus.

Although hopes for the unicorns are high, millennials in rural areas are more likely to have less access to training as well as the resources required to face the new wave of industrialization. BPS data reveals that both the urban and rural population in the country has fulfilled basic education.

But because access to the internet and other resources in rural areas is lacking, the need to direct these youth to alternative industries and various job opportunities becomes crucial. They need to be exposed to the digital economy.

Moreover, demand for the skills required for Industry 4.0 could grow quickly. Both digital literacy and entrepreneurial spirit are vital for every millennial to overcome the challenges of industrialization. If the candidates cannot accommodate millennials’ interests for a fairer share of economic gains, it could eventually pose a danger, as they will vote emotionally to frustration and insecurity.

Furthermore, as economic nationalism remains a key issue in the presidential debates, the sentiment might not be appealing for urban youngsters anymore. When millennials start running a business, they want to attract more investment, domestic or foreign. Internet and social media platforms have allowed their startups to operate across borders. Right-positioning of local business in the global economic environment can be an option to boost the mood.

Credit : Jakarta Post