A study which suggests Edgeworthstown is the Irish town ‘most at risk’ of job losses due to future automation has been refuted and dubbed ‘pie in the sky’ by angry local councillor Paul Ross.
Cllr Ross suggested, “It's a bit of a pie in the sky study from a college down in Cork which I assume was based on the use of CSO figures by its authors who never even visited the town.”
The report, titled ‘Automation in Irish Towns: Who’s Most at Risk’, examined the impact of automation across urban areas in Ireland and identified the towns most at risk to automation, with Edgeworthstown figuring on top of the pile.
Co-author of the report, Dr Frank Crowley, economist at the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School, commented, “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.”
Jobs that were labelled as most at risk included office, secretarial and administrative positions, process plant operators, customer service jobs and jobs in agriculture.
Richard McCaffrey, MD of Edgeworthstown company Dynamic Control Solutions Ltd, who develop automation equipment for the manufacturing industry, noted that using automation helps eliminate the risk of injury claims.
"Obviously with automated equipment you remove the need for a repetitive injury claim."
Mr McCaffrey added, “Robots can do a job and it takes the element of risk out of doing a job. An operator can do a very repetitive task but in the manufacturing industry where you could have up to four different shift cycles, companies can reduce a lot of their manufacturing costs by utilising one robot instead of four to eight operators.”
Upon hearing that Edgeworthstown is most at-risk of job losses due to automation, Mr McCaffrey replied, “I heard that alright and yes, Edgeworthstown does have a few very large employers, C&D Foods, Paul & Vincent and they would have automated lines in place but I would still have thought the likes of Shannon, Athlone and Galway, with large manufacturing employers in place, would be more likely to be heavily affected."
Edgeworthstown Traders Association Chairperson and owner of The Sportsman Inn, Gerry Lynn, described his shock at the town featuring so high on the list.
Edgeworthstown hails its new robot overlords! https://t.co/xBSELLeEZF— Ballymahon Daily (@BallymahonDaily) February 22, 2019
“I was surprised,” Mr Lynn told the Longford Leader. “Maybe it is because we have a couple of factories and people think they are mainly automated.”
He noted that advances in technology are inevitable and says people should not be too surprised at the news that automation is likely to increase.
“Towns across Ireland are changing beyond recognition,” Mr Lynn added. “Whether it happens in Edgeworthstown or in Mullingar, it’s going to happen.”
Photos: Shelley Corcoran