Monday 23 September 2019

Revealed: The rural Irish towns most at risk from the rise of robots

Two out of every five jobs 'at high risk from automation'

Stock image
Stock image
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

Robots and automation pose a threat to 40pc of Irish jobs - and a number of rural towns have been identified as most at risk.

Researchers at University College Cork have looked at where human beings are most in danger of being made redundant due to automation.

The analysis predicted Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, and Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary, will see the greatest job losses in the future. Towns whose jobs are least at risk were identified as Bearna, Co Galway, Strandhill, Co Sligo, and Malahide, Co Dublin.

"Automation technologies have a long history with inventions like the steam engine, electricity, industrial robots or automated teller machines," the study outlines. "From this perspective, robots have been coming for a long time."

Jobs identified as being most at risk to automation include office, secretarial and administrative support positions, process plant operators, jobs in agriculture and customer service.

Those least at risk are in teaching, media and culture-related positions, health and social care and research and development jobs.

Staff need clear guidelines, training and re-training to ensure the human touch is evident. Stock image
Staff need clear guidelines, training and re-training to ensure the human touch is evident. Stock image

'Automation in Irish Towns: Who's Most at Risk?' examines the impact of automation across urban areas and identifies the 10 towns most and least at risk.

Authors Dr Frank Crowley and Dr Justin Doran will present their report today at 'The Creative Rural Economy' public event in UCC which brings together academics, policymakers, business entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to discuss challenges facing rural Ireland.

"In particular, towns exposed to agriculture and manufacturing should be key concerns as they are likely to be the towns most disrupted," the study states.

Using 2016 Census data, Dr Crowley and Dr Doran's research found the danger to towns is mainly explained by population differences, education levels, age demographics, the proportion of creative occupations in the town, town size and differences in the types of industries.

The towns most at risk are:

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

The towns least at risk are:

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.

"The impact of automation in Ireland is going to be felt far and wide, with two out of every five jobs at high risk," Dr Crowley said.

He and Dr Doran said the research should help inform policy designed to tackle the challenges posed by automation.

"The dominance of the city is a trend taking place right across the world. As cities become the dominant centre for economic activity, rural areas are being left behind, and these spatial differences have been credited with the rise of right-wing political movements across the world," stated Dr Crowley.

The authors recommended a co-ordinated regional strategy to prevent the "brain drain" and said people would need to drive new social solutions to tackle the challenges.

Most at risk...

1. Edgeworthstown, Co Longford

2. Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan

3. Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary

Safe for now...

1. Bearna, Co Galway

2. Strandhill, Co Sligo

3. Malahide, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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