News and Views

Two out of every five jobs across Ireland at ‘high risk’ of automation

22 Feb 2019
Dr Frank Crowley: As cities become the dominant centre for economic activity, rural areas are being left behind.

Two out of every five jobs across Ireland are at ‘high risk’ of automation, a University College Cork (UCC) report finds today.


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.

Towns whose jobs are most at risk of automation, include Edgeworthstown in County Longford, Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan, and Cahir in County Tipperary. Towns whose jobs are least at risk of automation were identified as Bearna in County Galway, Skerries in County Dublin and Ballina in County Tipperary. The top 10 towns most at risk of automation and the top 10 towns least at risk of automation, span over 14 towns and across all four provinces in Ireland.

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. The jobs least at risk to being automated are in the areas of teaching and education, the arts, media and culture related positions, health and social care and research and development positions.

"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," commented co-author of the report, Dr Frank Crowley, economist at the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School. "The impact of automation in Ireland is going to be felt far and wide, with two out of every five jobs at high risk of automation."   

"Our study finds that the likelihood of jobs in towns being automated is explained by population differences, by education levels, age demographics, the proportion of creative occupations in the town, town size and differences in the types of industries across towns. Our results suggest that the pattern of job risk from automation across Ireland demands policy that is not one size fits all, rather a localised, place-based, bottom up approach to policy intervention is needed in Ireland," stated Dr Crowley.

The report found wide differences between the average numbers of jobs at high risk of automation across towns, from a low of 26 per cent to a high of 58 per cent.  In addition the analysis found that many at high risk towns have at low risk nearby towns and many at low risk towns have at high risk neighbours.

"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 difference have been credited with the rise of right wing political movements across the world," stated Dr Crowley.

The analysis also found that there are also some concentrations of at lower risk towns and separately, concentrations of at higher risk towns. 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 County Cork and Shannon and Abbeyfeale in County Limerick.

Dr Frank Crowley & Dr Justin Doran are the co-authors of the report which was presented today (Friday, February 22) at ‘The Creative Rural Economy’ public event in UCC which is hosted by The Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School. The event brings leading academics, policymakers, business entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs together to discuss the challenge of maximising the growth potential of peripheral and rural Ireland.

For more on this story contact:

Eoin Hahessy, Head of Media and PR, UCC: 086 046 8950 or

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