The Importance of TOEIC Certification for SMK Graduates

English can open any doors. That is what I have believed and has become one of the reasons why I learned English in the first place. I even decided to studied English formally and became an English teacher because I wanted to share my knowledge to more people. So, at the end of the day my students can open various doors on their own.

When we look up at the internet and type on Google “the importance of English”, or “the benefits of studying English”, or “why should we learn English?”, some of the findings will include “English opens new career opportunities”, or, “Studying English can help you to get a job”, or “English can make your job easier”. Thus, it means that English does open one of the most important “doors” in human’s life, making a living. When someone is able to communicate in English, he or she will have more possibilities to get a job since many jobs require people to communicate using English.

But how someone can prove his or her English skills before he or she actually performs in the job? The answer is by showing a valid proficiency certificate. And TOEIC is the most relevant certificate since it shows our ability in understanding English in professional setting.

TOEIC stands for Test of English for International Communication. It was developed by ETS in order to measure one’s ability to communicate in English effectively, especially in workplace settings.

In relation to this, the government has conducted a program called SMK English Challenge through psmk, aiming at providing opportunities for vocational high school students to take TOEIC for free. SMK students can achieve TOEIC certificate only if they can pass the pre-test that is called Viera test with the result at least at intermediate level. This government movement should be much appreciated because TOEIC certification is one of the efforts that can be done to improve the qualification of SMK students once they graduate from high school. There are several reasons why TOEIC certification is beneficial for SMK graduates.

From employers’ point of view, the need of English-speaking workers is inevitable. In today’s global economy, an English-proficient workforce can provide institutions with a competitive advantage, unlocking opportunities with new partners and markets. Business cannot be profitable if corporations rely only on local market. Employers need English speakers for the company to grow. Employees’ English skill will become important assets, as it has a role as a catalyst in international business negotiation. Workforce with English proficiency can provide access for wider business opportunities and international collaborations. Based on a study carried out by ETS and Dynata entitled English Communication Skills for The Modern Economy: The Value of Quality Data to Support Talent Decisions, forward-thinking corporations must develop a culture of English proficiency within their organization due to the widespread of the use of English across the global population. They stated that within this environment, businesses that fail to prepare to capitalize on these new global opportunities are preparing to fall down. TOEIC certification then becomes the most reliable assessment for candidates recruitment and maintenance of employees’ English skills.

In Indonesia, according to http://toeic.or.id/, there are various companies that use TOEIC as recruitment requirements. They are Antam, Indonesia Power, Citilink, PT INKA, Pertamina, Metro TV, JGC, SF Group, The Jakarta Post, My Indo Airlines, and Telkomsel. TOEIC certificate becomes one of the considerations in administrative selection for candidates who have sent their curriculum vitae to those corporations. Meanwhile, Bursa Efek Indonesia, PT Badak NGL, Premier Oil Indonesia, Conoco Philips, Saka Energi, Semen Gresik, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, and Lion Air have used TOEIC as the second recruitment step after administrative selection. These organizations majors in mining, electricity, transportation (land and air), oil and gas, mass media, construction, telecommunication, stock, and bank. Some of those corporations operating in Indonesia have also been recorded as having achieved trillions rupiahs of profit and made into 50 companies that achieved the highest score in Corporate Governance according to Otoritas Jasa Keuangan. It can be assumed that the profit of the company will be proportional with the wealth of the employees, thus they have become prestigious corporations that Indonesian people want to work for.

Globally, as stated in https://toeicglobal.com/, the TOEIC Program has set the Gold Standard as the most internationally recognized English proficiency assessment for the workplace for more than 35 years. The website also presents many organizations worldwide which become its client and have used TOEIC in assessing their employees’ English proficiency. In fact, the companies vary in field, including electronics, oil and gas, airlines, pharmaceutical, computer hardware, auto and truck manufacturers, banks, and many others. Corporations like Air France, Thai Airways, Packard Bell France, Kenwood Electronics Malaysia, and Chili Opper-Mining Company have used TOEIC to test the candidates’ English skills to make sure that they will be able to carry out the job which requires English ability once they are accepted as employees. The jobs in the field mentioned above have been considered as some of the best paying jobs of 2020 according to https://www.cnbc.com/. Who doesn’t want to work there?

All the information stated above indicates that companies are looking for candidates with English proficiency which is proven in a form of TOEIC certificate. It is clear that TOEIC certificate becomes essential for SMK graduates in order to apply in those reputable corporations. Without one, they will not be able to pass the job screening even when they have the skills needed by the organizations.

In the other hand, if we observe from the jobseekers’ side, the ability of communicating in English will give additional values on their curriculum vitae. They will be able to confidently showcase their skills during interview if they master the language. But supplementary, they can get ahead of other candidates when applying for a new job or a promotion by being proficient in English, proven by TOEIC certificate that they attach in the job application. TOEIC certificate contributes even greater if ones expect to exceed in international career, as explained in the global occupation before.

Working in the companies stated previously can be unreachable dream to many people. But having a TOEIC certificate could be one of the keys to get the job they want. Especially SMK graduates, TOEIC certification can equip them with the language skills proof that those companies are looking for.

Even if SMK graduates cannot pass the job screening due to their lack of educational background, TOEIC certificate they earn in high school can be useful for them to apply for scholarship to continue their study. There are various scholarships that requires English proficiency certificate in a form of TOEIC e.g. LPDP (Indonesia’s Finance Ministry), Ignacy Lukasiewicz Scholarship (Poland), Taiwan Scholarship (MOE – Education Ministry), Global Korea Scholarship, Hanyang University Scholarship, KAIST Scholarship, Mitsui-Bussan Scholarship, Asia Bridge Program scholarship, and so forth. Once they graduate from the university, they can once again apply in those reputable companies. In other scenario, they can make use of the knowledge and skills they have obtained from school to be entrepreneur, making their own money while providing jobs opening for more people.

Considering the importance of TOEIC certification, there is a great need of SMK graduates to have TOEIC certificate. All of the advantages of TOEIC certification are in line with the governments’ aims, that the SMK graduates can either work in the industry based on their major, be entrepreneurs, or continue their study in the university.

It used to be quite impossible for them to have the certification as it takes quite a fortune to register for the test and gain the certificates independently. However, SMK English Challenge has made the access to have TOEIC certification broadened. It means that now vocational high school students in Indonesia, no matter how their social economic backgrounds are, are able to take the test and have the certificates, to show their capability in communicating using English. This must come with the hope that one day SMK graduates can win global worker competition.


Written by Ni Putu Herma Yanthi, S.Pd.,M.Pd.

An English teacher in SMK Negeri 1 Tabanan

Bali, November 2020