The COVID-19 pandemic has driven Indonesia’s economy online, but often it has left behind those who are not ready for a digital revolution. The country’s education institutions, teachers, students as well as parents have struggled to adapt to online learning.

Therefore, the need to develop new talents and upskilling existing talents for the digital economy has been proven urgent in Indonesia. According to the World Bank, the skill sets of ICT graduates in Indonesia fall short of industry requirements. This has serious repercussions, with the report projecting a shortage of 9 million skilled and semi-skilled ICT workers up to 2030.

To find out what is going on and how the problem can be solved, we spoke to a startup looking to change all of that. Binar Academy plans to utilize the connections and expertise brought in by current investors such as Singapore’s first edtech accelerator Edupaze to build learning methodologies and outcomes that will prevail in the ever growing digital industry.

We spoke to Alamanda Shantika, founder and president director of Binar Academy about their mission and the impact they ae are having in Indonesia. Fresh off their undisclosed seed funding from VC firm Teja Ventures, they are looking to build upon their core technology offerings and digitize their content.

We explore the Indonesian unicorn startups and their impact

Find out what Alamanda had to share with us.

Congrats on the latest funding. Could you share a little bit more about Binar Academy?

Thank you! Founded in 2017, Binar Academy is a pioneering edtech platform focusing on developing digital skills and talent by reimagining the higher education landscape through enhancing the learning experience, providing a higher accessibility, and creating digestible content. These three approaches are implemented in our educational programs Binar Bootcamp and Binar Insight, as well as talent placement service, Job Connect to support the career growth of high school graduates, university students, and career shifters.

Binar Academy co-founders Alamanda, Seto Lareno and Dita Aisyah

Why did you start the company? What problem are you trying to solve?

My idea to start the company came from a variety of experiences I had early in life. When I was a child, I didn’t enjoy going to school but I loved to learn. The thought of going to school and sitting down to listen to a teacher all day was boring to me, but at home I was always curious about how things are made. Later in life I questioned why schools are not places were people want to learn, so I have always dreamt of re-imagining higher education where people can discover their learning drive and maximize their learning experience.

Through my curiosity I discovered that hacking the brain to make it addicted to learning requires a fun and engaging experience. Content also plays a huge role in the learning experience and specifically for tech and IT, the content available to learn from in Indonesia doesn’t fit the industry needs. The curriculum applied in universities in Indonesia has not been evolving while the digital industry is continuously developing. As a result, university graduates in the country doesn’t have the skills needed in the industry, creating a skills gap. As a practitioner in the digital industry myself, I realized we need to create relatable content to develop the next generation of talents. Additionally, millions of students in Indonesia lack access to higher education due to economic limitations. Knowing these facts drove me to build a school that not only have digestible content but is also accessible and affordable for anyone who wants to learn. In summary, Binar Academy aims to give birth to not only graduates with a smart mind but with higher levels of consciousness as well, or as I call it, a “natural learner.”

Given the potential tech talent crunch in Southeast Asia, do you see Binar Academy being able to be part of the regional solution?

Eventually we look forward to being part of the regional solution especially for countries that are facing problems similar to Indonesia such as accessibility and skills gap. However, Indonesia itself is projected to a shortage of 9 million skilled and semi-skilled ICT workers up to 2030. In the near future, our focus will be to close the shortage in Indonesia and then support the tech talent crunch in Southeast Asia through our graduates. This mission has been made even more possible as we recently received a learning solutions certification from EAF (Education Alliance Finland), which allows us to gain credibility to do so.

How do you see Indonesia’s tech talent growing in the next five years?

The rise of startups that focus on developing digital talents with courses ranging from programming to digital marketing in Indonesia has shown the increase in growth of Indonesia’s

tech talents. However, to fully maximize this effort in the next five years we need to strengthen the collaboration between the stakeholders in the Indonesian education industry, such as education institutions, government entities, and tech companies. Collectively, we need to improve the learning experience, pedagogical approach, and contents of these courses instead of only focusing on teaching the hard skills that will potentially be obsolete in the future. This is why Binar Academy focuses on unlocking human’s natural learning ability to be more adaptive with uncertainty in the future.

What do you think is required for Indonesia to become a leading technology talent hub?

Based on our research, the problems faced by Indonesia in becoming a leading technology talent hub are accessibility, experience, and employability. First and foremost, high quality education in Indonesia is expensive. University enrollment rate stood low at 35% (out of 10 million high school and vocational graduates) due to high cost that is unaffordable by a majority of Indonesia’s population. When the students are enrolled, schools and universities implement outdated learning methods such as one-size fits all and rote learning. As a result, graduates are unable to sustain the knowledge they gained at school. Additionally, the content taught itself are not aligned with industry needs. University graduates in Indonesia are struggling to find work and their degree became irrelevant. These three problems must be solved by stakeholders in the Indonesian education industry to become a leading technology talent hub.

What’s next for Binar Academy?

We will continuously grow our core technology education offerings to create, train and develop digital talent. We plan on delivering new courses and learning methods for old and new Binar Academy students to keep learning and have fun while doing it. Our goal is to crack the human brain to make learning as fun as watching Netflix, as addictive as browsing your Instagram feed.