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Ireland needs to switch on or be left behind in computer science

The Irish Times - Technology is changing at an ever-increasing pace and so is the nature of the work people do. Researchers at the University of Oxford recently analysed more than 700 different occupations to see how easily they could be automated. They concluded that 47 per cent of jobs are at high risk of being eliminated by computers over the next 20 years.

It’s not only manual jobs that are under threat but professional roles too, such as those of accountants, pilots, lawyers and doctors. In order to avoid a situation of growing unemployment, our education system must be sufficiently agile to allow today’s children to stay ahead of the machines. But our education system is failing to adjust to these changes: the same core subjects are being taught as were taught during the 20th century.

The labour market of the future will centre on individuals with high abstract reasoning and creative skills, carrying out the kind of tasks that are resistant to automation. This kind of activity, an aspect of computation that cannot be emulated by machine, is known as “computational thinking”.