Responding to a commitment to give marginalised and vulnerable youth an opportunity to access decent work, Seidensticker supported its factory in Indonesia to undertake a youth development programme. The programme, implemented by The Centre for Child Rights and Business, involved two key phases that created jobs for 22 young people under the age of 18 who under normal circumstances would not have had the opportunity to work there. At the same time, it empowered the factory to effectively and confidently manage youth in a compliant and sustainable way while building up a multi-skilled workforce.
Like in many countries, factories in Indonesia rarely hire individuals under the age of 18 due to compliance concerns. Factories worry about hiring child labour, or having to allocate extra resources and time to lawfully manage and arrange work. That results in youth effectively being shut out from jobs in Tier 1 factories, prompting them to look to the informal sector and lower-tier supply chains where they face the risk of exploitation and unsafe working conditions.
“We had doubts at the beginning of the project about how we should train them, how we should treat the young workers at their workstations,” said Mr. Rikky, the HR Manager, reflecting a view commonly held by factories.
In the initial phase of the programme, the factory received comprehensive capacity-building support in the form of Training of Trainers (ToT) for HR and supervisors on how to manage the programme, guidance on improving recruitment practices and running a mentor system, as well as support to strengthen the orientation training.
“With The Centre’s help, we actually know how to do that now. It’s a good programme for us,” Mr. Rikky reflected.
At Seidensticker’s Indonesian factory, the programme ensured that recruited youth were not just employed but were provided with a platform for personal and professional growth in a safe environment.
The youth received a range of soft and technical skills training throughout the duration of the programme, and were rotated to various work stations. This allowed them to acquire a wide range of skills that will help them grow both within and beyond the factory.
“My days in other factories were long and often began at 7:15 am with overtime extending until 9 pm. I only earned IDR 500,00 (32 USD) after two weeks of work)” said KQ, one of the female participants in the programme.
At the Seidensticker factory, she does not do any overtime or hazardous tasks, and gets the same pay as adult workers.
“I am grateful for a better job with a better salary,” she added.
The majority of the young workers in the programme left school at the age of 15 after graduating from junior high school. Some had previously worked in hazardous conditions or unhealthy working environments. All of them were underpaid and did excessive overtime.
“Now I receive a better salary with an appropriate workload and a good working environment,” said NS, an Elementary School dropout who had to work to support her family.
What stands out as a major highlight of this programme is the fact that the factory is committed to continue hiring young workers over the long term. Over the course of the programme, the factory has strengthened its internal capacity to recruit, train, retain, and evaluate young workers themselves. As the implementation partner, The Centre took a back seat in the final phase of the programme as the factory had successfully incorporated all the learnings into its daily procedures. It has also made a push to garner support from stakeholders beyond the HR department, such as the production department, which is expanding the programme’s impact across the factory's operational landscape.
The factory may be small, but its continued positive impact on local youth is big.