Indonesia is a chain of islands that are home to various ethnic communities. Its economy is the biggest in Southeast Asia and the country houses a sizable expat community.
A large number of expats in Indonesia work at foreign companies, while many also secure employment as English teachers. Finding work at a foreign company makes the process of obtaining a visa easier. Job opportunities for expats are easier to find in the bigger cities.Jakarta, in particular, being the capital city and also the economic hub of the country, has many expats who move there to work in diverse sectors such as the automotive industry, electronics and exports. There are also job opportunities available for expats already living in Indonesia. Employers who generally prefer to hire locally instead of recruiting an individual from abroad may see the familiarity with the region and work environment as beneficial. Knowledge of Bahasa (the official language of Indonesia) serves as an extra advantage in these instances. Expat spouses of native Indonesians may also be able to find employment due to their understanding of the culture.
Job search websites are perhaps the most helpful way to look for work in Indonesia and this process can begin even before arriving in the country. Some of the reputed job sites include Job Street, Jobs DB and Karir. Networking is also an effective way to explore employment opportunities. Some expats may choose to join a multinational company in their home country and from there apply for an Indonesian assignment.
Expats seeking work in Indonesia must first be aware that the government policies are not very open to expats working in the country. Unemployment is high and the government attempts to ensure that either local or foreign companies do not hire foreigners over Indonesians. This policy may be a setback for younger expat professionals who haven’t yet acquired much work experience. But this doesn’t mean that it is impossible for expats to find a job in Indonesia. There is a requirement that an expat has to be an ‘expert’ in their field in order to be considered for a position. Work experience of about 5 to 10 years, or a relevant degree is given importance. Still, if a native Indonesian is available and qualified for the same job, he or she will be given preference. The Ministry of Manpower of the Indonesian government also expects foreign companies to replace expats with native Indonesians in certain positions after a certain amount of time. This again is part of the effort to secure work for the many unemployed locals and also to save on the high costs of hiring expats.
Any company in Indonesia must first acquire the government’s permission before hiring an expat. This is often a long process that involves navigating bureaucracy, and can also turn out to be expensive for the company. Therefore companies, whether domestic or international, put a lot of thought into hiring foreigners. Companies are also required to pay a monthly $100 tax for every foreigner they employ. As mentioned earlier, expats are supposed to be ‘experts’ in their field before they can be hired for a position. But native speakers from countries like the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada interested in teaching English may be exempted from this rule. Expats who are native speakers and have proper teaching qualifications are already considered experts and should be able to find teaching jobs easily. Once a company’s application to hire an expat is approved by the government, a work permit may be issued. The next step is applying for a semi-resident visa. Expats can legally work in Indonesia only if they have a work permit.
ITAS work permits are issued to English language teachers only from the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Some useful sites for expats interested in teaching jobs include ESL Employment, Total ESL and Tesall. The website of the international TEFL academy also has a table that indicates how much English teachers can expect to earn in different countries across the world.
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