The impact of automation in Ireland is going to be felt far and wide according to a new study, with two out of every five jobs at high risk of automation.

The report, conducted by researchers at University College Cork, also identified ten towns most at risk of jobs automation.

Using 2016 Census data, researchers at UCC were able to identify what towns in Ireland will be most impacted.

The study - Automation in Irish Towns: Who's Most at Risk? - examines the impact of automation across urban areas in Ireland, and identifies those towns where jobs are at a high risk of automation, and the towns where jobs are at a lower risk of automation.

The report were presented today at a Creative Rural Economy event in Cork.

Jobs most at risk of automation include office and secretarial positions, process plant operators, jobs in agriculture and customer service. 

Jobs in teaching, health and social care and research and development, are less likely to be affected.

The study found that Edgeworthstown in Co Longford, as well as Fethard and Cahir in Tipperary, are among the top ten towns most at risk of job losses due to automation.

Towns such as Portmarnock in Dublin and Annacotty in Limerick, were least likely to be affected.

Report co-author Dr Frank Crowley said the impact of automation is going to be felt far and wide and it demands a national policy that is not one-size-fits-all.


Towns most at risk of automation:

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 of automation:

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


Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Crowley said that the growth of cities is a trend internationally, to the detriment of those living in peripheral or rural areas.

He explained that the study employed internationally-recognised methodology to measure the type of tasks which would become automated or not, and applied this measure to occupations at risk or not in different locations.

The study found that the differences between towns at higher risk depended largely on education levels, ie, the more third level educated people you have in a town the lower the risk of automation.

Dr Crowley said manufacturing jobs or office, administration or other routine-based jobs in customer service, agriculture or process plant engineering were sectors at high risk of automation.

Towns with creative jobs that involved more complex problem solving were less at risk.

Dr Crowley said that predictions are that these developments will come to pass over the next two decades.

However, he said it will take time and it is not "Armageddon".

He said it is likely that technological "bottlenecks" along the way will slow down the move to automation.

He said one of the key findings was the concentration of high and low risk towns alongside each other - meaning any policies to address it would require "smart specialisation" and a bottom-up approach.