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Indonesia's research institute warns of looming scientist shortage

(Xinhua)

08:56, September 21, 2012

JAKARTA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesia's foremost research institute is warning of a brain drain in the scientific community over the next five years, but leading figures argue that Indonesia has the potential to produce a new batch of promising young scientists, a media reported here on Thursday.

Chairman of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Lukman Hakim, said his institute would need another 1,500 new scientists just to replace those retiring over the next five years.

Nevertheless, he said this would be difficult to achieve because there are very few scientists under the age of 50 available for recruitment by the government body, leaving it with a mostly aging scientific community whose work could be abandoned without a new generation to continue it.

"During the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri, there was a policy in place to recruit 1,500 new scientists, but for whatever reason we only got 700. The remaining 800 were support staff," he was quoted by the Jakarta globe as saying.

The chairman said that there are now only 1,384 scientists out of LIPI's total workforce of 4,900, and said that the ideal composition would be the reverse, with three scientists to one support staff.

"We've asked the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform to help us produce at least 1,500 scientists over the next five years, because that's how long it will take to train them after they graduate from university," he said.

The chairman said that the figure did not take into account the number of new scientists and researchers that would also be needed by the private sector, which is seeing a boom in the biotechnology, mineral resources and manufacturing industries.

Yohanes Surya, a prominent physicist and founder of the Surya Institute said young Indonesians could bring new and unique insights into science.

He also highlighted the potential of youth in underdeveloped regions of the country, arguing that they could become leading scientists if they were given the same opportunities as youth in Jakarta and other major urban areas.
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