Enabling Equitable Opportunities for Renewable Energy Workforce in Indonesia

^ Sufiani, 11th Grade Student, RET Major, SMKN 1 Lingsar

The Indonesian government's target of using 23% of renewable energy (RE) in the country's total energy use will open up significant employment opportunities in this area. However, the involvement of women in this field is still very much lacking. Therefore more effort is needed to encourage women's participation in the RE field and to change perceptions about gender roles in the RE sector, as delivered by Happy Sukmawati, lecturer of solar energy technology, and Sufiani, a vocational school student on renewable energy.

Renewable energy (RE) will play a significant role in Indonesia’s future and the continued growth of the sector will create more and more jobs for a variety of skilled professionals. At the moment, however, there is a gender disparity in the RE workforce: women's participation in the RE sector is often characterized as limited to household consumption only, and not associated with planning, policymaking, technical work, or management.  This is apparent in senior vocational schools, where the percentage of female students studying renewable energy technology (RET) is still low. More effort is needed to encourage women to join the RE workforce and to change perceptions about gender roles in the RE sector.

Indonesia’s target for the portion of renewable energy usage in the overall national mix is 23% and the government estimates that 70,000 jobs will be created in the sector as a result. This means there will be significant employment opportunities in the RE field across production of equipment, operations, and maintenance, however, the involvement of women in this field is still very much lacking.

The public assumption is still that the engineering world, including RET, is a masculine one. According to Niken Arumdati, the Head of Renewable Energy Development Section at the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources in NTB Province, this mindset needs to be changed. “Women can engage more in its engineering and technology, which is the development of RET.”

^ Happy Sukmawati, S.T., RET Instructor, SMKN 2 Praya Tengah

One of the first women to be certified as a lecturer in the field of RET (Certification of Renewable Energy Profession Certification Institute (LSP ET)) is Happy Sukmawati, a teacher at SMKN 2 Praya Tengah, Central Lombok. In 2016, Happy attended the RET training held by PEKA SINERGI, so far Happy has participated in two RET trainings and one PLTS certification held in Bandung. Happy mentioned that the training from PEKA SINERGI was very useful as she initially did not know much about RET, and now has become a professional and certified RET teacher. Happy wishes that in the future Indonesia could produce its own solar cells, so that solar panel production cost is more affordable locally.

Happy mentioned that it is still difficult to invite female students to study RET. In 2018, SMKN 2 Praya Tengah will open RET extracurricular program for the first time. So far, many male students have enrolled, but not many female students seem interested. Happy mentioned that many female students think that RET is a bit ‘heavy’ for them.

“Many argue that studying RET is only for men, and not suitable for women. When in fact women can also study it,” Happy said.

“In addition, obstacles are also came from parents who usually do not want their daughters to work hard, and prefer their daughters to work in the office with computers, which are indoors,” Happy added.

To increase the number of female students in the future, according to Happy, we must be conduct more socialization of RET for students, especially for SMP (junior high) students.

"We must also emphasize that women can also learn and work in the field of RET, not just men", Happy added.

Happy also mentioned that there should be socialization to the community, especially to parents, so that parents can also support their children to study RET. Happy hopes that when the RET extracurricular program starts, there will be many female students participating.

As one of the first students who majors in RET at SMKN 1 Lingsar, West Lombok, Sufiani said it was rather difficult at first to convince her parents to continue to SMK majoring in RET.

“Many said that this department is more for men, but I think men and women should have the same opportunities today. It seems difficult, but actually women can also study this area,“ explained Sufiani.

“The practicum in the beginning was a bit hard, welding for example, because it was the first time we did it, especially for female students. But there are still lots of other things that we can do, RET is not just about welding and climbing," said Sufiani.

Sufiani mentioned that she wanted to work in RET field after she graduates. Moreover, Sufiani wishes to contribute to Indonesia becoming clean energy country.

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