One in three jobs in Ireland at risk of disruption from digital technologies

As many as 46,000 jobs could be lost to digital transformation in Ireland in the next five years alone.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has warned that one in three jobs in Ireland are at risk of being disrupted by digital technologies.

However, much of this disruption will result in changes to job roles and tasks performed by individuals rather than job losses.

‘Career changes and workforce transitions will be a feature of the future. This means that lifelong learning will become even more of an imperative for the workforce’
– TONY DONOHOE

The report estimates that disruption from the adoption of digital technologies over the next five years will lead to a hypothetical loss of 46,000 jobs when compared to growth predictions for jobs, without accounting for the adoption of digital technologies.

There is a silver lining in the report in that more people will be employed in 2023 in Ireland than there were in 2018.

“Whilst this report predicts that the economy will grow strongly over the next five years, it also makes clear that due to the increased adoption of digital technologies, there will be significant disruption to job roles and tasks performed by individuals,” said the chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, Tony Donohoe.

“Career changes and workforce transitions will be a feature of the future. This means that lifelong learning will become even more of an imperative for the workforce.”

Sectors at risk

Sectors most at risk are those normally associated with repetitive, manual tasks that can be replaced by automation, but the risk is not just limited to these. Those most at risk include: agriculture, retail, transport and hospitality, and manufacturing.

The report said that the potential impact of automation will be felt by those with lower levels of educational achievement. The jobs at highest risk of displacement by digital technologies include many elementary, low-skilled occupations, but also several sales and customer service occupations that can be replaced through a combination of chatbots and robotic process automation.

At a regional level, Dublin is the least at risk from automation, while the midlands and border regions are most at risk.

The report urges that changes to the way people consume education and training mean that educators and training providers will need to do more to help employers to support workers to upskill and reskill.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs said that there will be opportunities for many people to upskill within their current jobs and, as some jobs become more automated, employees ought to be trained to take on new tasks or roles. It also called for engagement from different stakeholders.

Not only that but individuals will have many different jobs during their lives and the concept of lifelong learning will need to become more ingrained in society.

Crucially, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs said that the need for all workers to have digital skills is recognised by Government and is being addressed.

“Without a doubt, digital technologies will pose several challenges in the coming years. However, we are already addressing its impacts through existing enterprise strategies and initiatives like the new €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, which is about securing the jobs of the future,” said Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.

“I firmly believe that Ireland now has a unique opportunity to position itself at the forefront of digital technologies through putting an even greater focus on skills and capitalising on our strong ICT sector.”