The Emerging Policy Leaders Program (EPLP) is a complete package of training created by the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) for future researchers to learn, understand, and experience the process of research, advocacy, and policymaking in Indonesia.
With prepared workshops specified to increase the research skills of the EPLP trainees and in-hand tasks, EPLP is a capability and capacity-building experience for young aspiring researchers in Indonesia.
Raised and educated in an environment with limited information on academic and policy research I had limited access to the research skills needed for the related profession, and impacts that potentially can be influential and noteworthy in promoting evidence-based research and policymaking.
These limitations have forced me to devote more time to exploring and participating in opportunities in research and policy-making in the country. This resulted in more time looking for accessibility, instead of focusing on upskilling by learning the necessary skills and practical work.
The EPLP program opens the opportunity to understand more about the conceptual thinking behind academic and public policy research, and their application in real life. Exposure to a think-tank environment and participating in advocacy with numerous stakeholders, allowed me to get to know the variety of career paths that I can pursue beyond research.
Involvement in government affairs in the corporate sector or expertise in a non-governmental organization is among those possibilities.
The comprehensive EPLP program has equipped me with the hard and soft skills required by a researcher. Courses such as interview training, academic writing, and fundraising that were prepared by EPLP trained me in conceptual thinking and proper conduct.
Moreover, our soft skills – critical thinking, persuasive, analytical, and negotiation skills were also sharpened, developing our ability to be more convincing and achieve better outcomes.
What differentiates the EPLP program is that the skills learned from the courses have to be put into practice. Most of the time, skills being taught are not expected to be implemented directly or there is a limited platform to apply them
But EPLP trainees are assigned to engage with stakeholders and take part in a number of tasks and projects. I was expected to practice what I have learned during the courses– hard and soft skills- in real work scenarios. As a result, I can better comprehend what I have learned.
I was also exposed to new, essential, and relevant issues, particularly in agriculture. With a background in international political economy, my assignment to the agriculture unit made me aware of new issues and challenges that are not merely related to political economy, but productivity and social welfare.
For example, I learned about the important role of fertilizer subsidies in increasing and sustaining smallholder farmers' productivity. The subsidies also reduce the living cost of smallholder farmers.
In the social welfare sector, I now realize that the barometer of Farmer Exchange Value (NTP) used by the government and researchers to measure the condition of farmer's welfare has gradually become obsolete.
The NTP cannot accurately indicate the welfare of farmers as the agricultural products sold are not increasing, while over the years inflation increases, making living costs more expensive.
In the program, I also studied the development of various strategic commodities in Indonesia, especially soybean. I learned that Indonesia's reliance on imported soybean remained high, making soybean products such as tempeh and tofu, Indonesian staple sources of affordable protein, more expensive.
Exploring soybean issues deeper, I had the opportunity to engage and interview relevant stakeholders, from the association of tempeh and tofu small and medium enterprises (SMEs), academia and experts on soybean agricultural productivity, and soybean seeds suppliers.
These interviews gave me new insight and allowed me to understand the challenges Indonesian soybean farmers are going through, from decreasing agricultural land due to land conversion, low yield, and poor quality of soybean output.
Additionally, doing these interviews gave me new sources to support the writing of research papers and strengthen the expected results. As a result, I can produce representative and credible research.
EPLP is a very comprehensive program to prepare prospective researchers. Fresh graduates with high ideals and critical reasoning can hone and express their thoughts and opinions and turn them into organized and robust arguments.
It is also an ideal place to improve teamwork within the organization and expand networking with experts in their field. Most importantly, for prospective researchers, EPLP prepares and sharpens the capacity and capability of future researchers so that they can deliver and formulate policies for the public that are objective and impactful.