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Are you one of the many expats who would like to look for work in Indonesia? Then, this article is for you! We get many inquiries on this site and postings on the Expat Forum from expatriates who want to relocate to Indonesia, or are already here, perhaps as a “trailing spouse”, and are looking for work.
Perhaps the first thing to ask , is “Are you already in Indonesia?” As job seekers around the world know, being able to respond immediately to leads and requests for interviews, as well as to network, is invaluable in a job search. Frankly speaking, it will be very hard for you to locate employment in Indonesia, if you are not physically there.
Government policies towards hiring expats
The second, most important thing is you must realize is that employment in Indonesia is not truly open to expatriates. 2008 government figures show that 8.4% of the population is unemployed and 10+% of those are professionals. Indonesian government policy is very clear that it does not want a company in Indonesia, domestic or foreign, to hire an expatriate for a job that can be done by an Indonesian. There are too many unemployed Indonesians looking for work!
This policy pretty much precludes the young, adventuring expat with little work experience from getting a job in Indonesia, except as an English teacher or volunteer.
In order for a company in Indonesia to hire an expatriate, they must have permission from the government. Obtaining this permission can be time consuming, costly for the company, and extremely bureaucratic. Hiring an expatriate is not a decision taken lightly by local or multinational companies.
Government policy states that foreigners who work in Indonesia must be “experts” in their field. This precludes your average recent university graduate from working here – as the Indonesian government defines an expert as someone who has been working in their field professionally for 5 to 10 or more years. The only exception we’ve found to this rule is for native speakers (from the US, UK, Canada Australia or New Zealand, only) teaching English. If you have official teaching qualifications from an accredited institution and are a native speaker – you are already considered an expert in the field of teaching English – even if you are a fresh graduate.
If the Indonesian government accepts a company’s application for your employment (if there is a place in their manpower plan), then the expatriate can be issued a work permit. After the work permit is approved, the company can apply for a semi-resident visa for the new employee – Work Permit First – Visa Second ! More information on documents needed by expatriates can be found at Visas and Documentation. It you do not have a work permit, you are not working legally! Be sure that your employer has gotten the full documentation for you.
In addition to the applications and bureaucratic hassles of hiring foreigners, the company must pay a monthly tax of $100 for each foreigner they hire. These funds are paid to the Manpower Ministry – who ostensibly uses the funds for training programs to increase the skills of Indonesians. Just this tax alone results in a $1,200 cost/year/foreign employee to the hiring company.
Expats in Indonesia
The expatriate community in Indonesia consists of the following major groupings:
Expatriates sent by their company to work in Indonesia – overseas placement of existing employees
Career diplomats assigned to the foreign embassies and consulates in Indonesia
Investors – persons who have invested in companies or set up companies in Indonesia
Aid workers for international organizations and NGOs
Local hires – expats who found jobs on their own in Indonesia
Expatriate spouses of Indonesian citizens