Rise of the machines threatens 40% of jobs in Ireland

Two out of every five Irish jobs are at “high risk” of being taken over by machines. The towns most at risk of automation, include Edgeworthstown in Co Longford, Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan, and Cahir in Co Tipperary, according to a UCC report.

The study Automation in Irish Towns: Who’s Most at Risk? examined automation in urban areas and identified areas where jobs are at a high risk and at a lower risk of being replaced by machines.

The jobs most at risk from automation include office, secretarial, and administrative support positions, and process plant operators, as well as jobs in agriculture and customer service.

Jobs at least risk are in the areas of teaching and education, the arts, media, culture-related positions, health and social care, and research and development.

Towns and villages whose jobs are least at risk include Barna, Co Galway, Skerries, Co Dublin, and Ballina, Co Mayo.

Frank Crowley, economist at the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre at UCC Business School, said the impact of automation in Ireland is going to be felt far and wide.

“Using 2016 Census data, we deployed an internationally recognised automation- risk methodology with a method of analysis to ascertain what towns in Ireland will be most impacted by the rise of automation,” said Dr Crowley, who is co-author of the report.

He said that the study found the likelihood of jobs in towns being automated is explained by population differences, education levels, age demographics, the proportion of creative occupations in the town, its size, and differences in the types of industries in towns.

The study found wide differences between the average numbers of jobs at high risk of automation in towns, from a low of 26% to a high of 58%.

In addition, the analysis found that many in high- risk towns have low-risk neighbouring towns and many in low-risk towns have high- risk neighbours.

For instance, in the Dublin city region, Malahide, Skerries and Donabate are all at lower risk of automation.

Similarly, some at higher risk towns are adversely affected by being surrounded by clusters of towns also at higher risk of automation such as Fermoy and Bandon in Co Cork and Shannon and Abbeyfeale in Co Limerick.

“The dominance of the ‘city’ is a trend taking place right across the world,” said Dr Crowley.

As cities become the dominant centre for economic activity, rural areas are being left behind.

Dr Crowley said these spatial differences have been credited with the rise of right-wing political movements across the world.

He said the results suggest that the pattern of job risk from automation across Ireland demands a policy response that is not one-size- fits-all; rather a localised, place-based, bottom-up approach to policy intervention is needed.

Mr Crowley co-authored the report with Justine Doran and their findings will be presented today at ‘Creative Rural Economy’ event at Cork University Business School, UCC.

The event will bring together leading academics, policymakers, business entrepreneurs, and social entrepreneurs to discuss the challenge of maximising the growth potential of peripheral and rural Ireland.

An iReach poll published last month showed that three out of four Irish people think automation and robots will lead to more unemployment.

The poll of 1,000 people found most believed robots will be good for the economy, More than 90% said they felt that large-scale automation will occur at some point in the future, with nearly half that figure believing it will happen in the very near future.

Risk factors

    Towns most at risk

    1. Edgeworthstown, Co Longford

    2. Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan

    3. Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary

    4. Portlaw, Co Waterford

    5. Clones, Co Monaghan

    6. Tullow, Co Carlow

    7. Cahir, Co Tipperary

    8. Lifford, Co Donegal

    9. Edenderry, Co Offaly

    10. Fethard, Co Tipperary

    Towns least at risk

    1. Bearna, Co Galway

    2. Strandhill, Co Sligo

    3. Malahide, Co Dublin

    4. Annacotty, Co Limerick,

    5. Greystones, Co Wicklow

    6. Portmarnock, Co Dublin

    7. Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

    8. Ballina, Co Mayo

    9. Skerries, Co Dublin

    10. Maynooth, Co Kildare

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