Eisya A. Eloksari, Jakarta – Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Bahlil Lahadalia said on Thursday that automation would impact both male and female workers after he warned women workers the previous day that they could be replaced by robots.
"I was just joking yesterday," he told the press on Thursday. "But if men and women don't have skills and don't increase their productivity, robots will replace them."
He went on to say that automation was one of the reasons that investment in Indonesia could only absorb about 1 million workers last year. The number was lower than the 1.17 million workers in 2017 and 1.39 million in 2016, but was higher than the 960,000 in 2018.
Bahlil said that as technology became more advanced, it became an increased threat to employment, adding that Indonesia actually had more female workers.
However, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data revealed that were many fewer women in the workforce than their male counterparts with 52 million as of February last year, compared with 77.3 million male workers.
Last year, the labor force participation rate for men and women was recorded at 82.69 percent and 51.88 percent, respectively. The low labor force participation rate for women has been constant over the past 20 years.
The former Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (Hipmi) chairman previously said during a press conference on Wednesday that female workers must "be careful" because automation could take over humans' jobs.
The comment was made after a female reporter asked Bahlil about the low job absorption despite BKPM's Rp 809.6 trillion (US$59.4 billion) investment realization last year.
"Someday no one will hire women because you can all be replaced by robots. So women, be careful," he said on Wednesday, adding that the move toward automation in Industry 4.0 was inevitable.