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This town in Longford is the most at-risk place from job automation in the country

Research from University College Cork has identified the top 10 most at-risk towns in Ireland for the first time.

Fethard, Co Tipperary. Fethard, Co Tipperary. Source: GoogleMaps

TWO OUT OF every five jobs in Ireland are at ‘high risk’ of automation, according to research from University College Cork, which has identified the top 10 most at-risk towns in Ireland for the first time. 

Topping that honour roll is Edgeworthstown in Co Longford.

A new report, ‘Automation in Irish Towns: Who’s Most at Risk?’, was conducted using Central Statistics Office data alongside automation risk methodology, according to co-author, Dr Frank Crowley.

“It’s the first time that any paper has gone this local,” he says. 

Examining data identifying which jobs are least likely to require human input in the future, Dr Crowley, alongside co-author Dr Justin Doran, paired this with occupational data from towns around Ireland. 

Measuring ‘high risk’ towns against ‘low risk’ towns, Dr Crowley concluded that among the most at-risk jobs in Ireland were office, secretarial and administrative support positions as well as process plant operators, jobs in agriculture and customer service.

The least at-risk jobs include teaching and education, as well as jobs in the arts, media and culture related positions. Health and social care and research and development positions also remain at low-risk from automation. 

‘High-risk, Low-risk’

As part of the study, Crowley and Doran studied urban towns with a population of 1,500 people or greater. 

In total, they’ve identified the top 10 town jobs at-risk of automation, which are as follows:

  • Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford
  • Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan
  • Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary
  • Portlaw, Co. Waterford
  • Clones, Co. Monaghan
  • Tullow, Co. Carlow
  • Cahir, Co. Tipperary
  • Lifford, Co. Donegal
  • Edenderry, Co. Offaly
  • Fethard, Co. Tipperary

While the Irish towns least at risk from automation are:

  • Bearna, Co. Galway
  • Strandhill, Co. Sligo
  • Malahide, Co. Dublin
  • Annacotty, Co Limerick
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Portmarnock, Co. Dublin
  • Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballina, Co. Mayo
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin
  • Maynooth, Co. Kildare

As a result of this research, Dr Crowley has concluded that efforts to ensure Irish towns don’t decline as a result of automation must be localised. 

The government’s Ireland 2040 initiative largely identified urban growth over the coming decades but Crowley says that this raises the question as to how peripheral towns in rural areas will survive. 

“It’s concerning that we don’t really have much of a policy focus around this whole area,” he has said. 

“What about these towns that aren’t in city regions?,” Crowley says. “The context to all this is Brexit, Trump, the Yellow Vest protests. We have this stability at an international level and we know that most of this is actually being driven by economic discontent, particularly in lagging areas.”

“Do we leave these places to decline? says Crowley. “Or do we come up with some sort of policy to mitigate the effects of their decline over time?”

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