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Government Clarifies Language Proficiency Rule

Requirement for all Foreign Workers to Speak Indonesian to Apply only to Junior Staff Levels.

Bali News:
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Indonesia's Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Fahmi Idris has clarified stringent new language proficiency requirements to be applied on foreign workers starting from 2006.

The requirement for proficiency in Bahasa Indonesia announced as a pre-condition for obtaining a work permit in Indonesia will now, apparently, only apply to lower echelon workers. Those in senior management and director level work will be exempted from having to prove their linguistic skills.

Quoted in the English-language Jakarta Post, the Minister said the new language tests would be introduced sometime during the first quarter of 2006 and would apply to both new hires and those already working in Indonesia.

Details remain vague, but it is widely expected that the test will be administered by the National Commission for Standardization of Professions, at a cost charged to the employer.

The language requirement is seen as a protectionist step being introduced by the Indonesia government to help stem an anticipated flood of foreign workers in 2006 when workers from ASEAN member countries are legislated to be allowed to work in any of 10 member nation countries. More open access to foreign workers will be further augmented in 2008 when Indonesia is required to open its labor opportunities to all nationalities under the terms of treaties with the World Trade Organization. By introducing a language requirement the Government hopes to stymie any flood of new foreign workers made possible by the liberalized foreign worker rules.

An estimated 28,000 foreign workers now hold permits issued by the Department of Manpower and Transmigration.

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