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Over 30,000 State jobs 'at risk from computers'

By Michael McHugh

One in six State jobs in Northern Ireland are at risk of automation by 2030, research shows. Those in administrative and operative positions are in greater danger of having their roles replaced by new systems, software or apps, according to a report from business advisers Deloitte.

It predicted 32,960 public sector posts were threatened by technological advances over the next 15 years. A quarter of all employees work in the public sector here, the highest proportion in the UK.

Jackie Henry, senior partner at Deloitte in Belfast, said: "Across all sectors of the economy, technological advances mean that repetitive and predictable tasks are increasingly undertaken by robotics - either in the form of software or devices. The public sector, and the public sector in Northern Ireland, is no different.

"The public sector has a high number of public-facing roles, particularly those in areas such as education and caring. These will be relatively safe from automation and could see the public sector impacted less than other sectors.

"However, automation still has significant potential to support cost reduction, meet citizens' expectations of public services, free up real estate, save staff time and improve productivity.

"As this happens new types of jobs are likely to emerge and it is important that we act now to prepare ourselves for the change - this will include developing new skills among our young people."

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned in 2016 that alongside the great benefits of technological progress in lifting people out of poverty, every technological revolution "mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods" before new jobs emerge.

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