By Una Murphy
When Peggy Seeger sang that she wanted “to be an engineer” she was hitting the right note.
Engineers are NOT among the 60,000 people in Northern Ireland expected to lose their jobs due to the impact of automation, according to a new report by the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).
It is one of the best jobs to be employed at because as a ‘non-routine, abstract/cognitive high skilled occupation, it is less likely to be affected by automation technologies.
Carers and people working in leisure jobs are also less likely to be replaced by robots however they still face low pay and poor working conditions, the NERI Quarterly Economic Observer report said.
Dr Lisa Wilson, one of the report’s authors told VIEWdigital that if you were a forklift driver and your job was taken over by machines you may find employment as a carer or in retail. Pay and conditions will be worse than in your old job, she added.
If you find a job in retail you are still at high risk of losing over the medium term, as a slow-down is expected in both the retail and hospitality sectors in Northern Ireland, according to the report.
Dr Wilson along with Paul MacFlynn, the report’s lead authors said: “Recent rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other forms of smart technologies have led to widespread concern about the potential impact of automation technologies for the future of work.
They added: “…we anticipate that there will be enough news jobs created to replace lost jobs.
“However, the new jobs created are not in many cases comparable to those lost and to think of them as replacement jobs can be quite misleading.
“New jobs are most likely to be in different occupations to the jobs that are lost but more importantly they also differ in quality to the jobs that were replaced.”
They added that the new jobs “tend to have relatively poor earnings”.
Mr MacFlynn said he did not believe that Universal Basic Income would be useful for people ‘on the dole’ as a result of the fast advance of artificial intelligence, robots and other ‘smart technologies’ to workplaces in Northern Ireland.
He told VIEWdigital that better social security provision would be preferable to basic income for the unemployed.
If you cannot become an engineer or find other non-routine abstract/cognitive high skilled jobs, the lowest automation risk is found in the Public Administration, Education and Health Sectors, the NERI report said.
• Download the report at https://www.nerinstitute.net/research/the-future-of-work-the-impact-of-automation-techno-1/