Over 72,000 applications were received by Central Applications Office (CAO) by the February 1 closing date this year and the figures show that one of the rising sectors in terms of first place preference was agriculture.
There was a decrease in college applications overall this year. The upturn in the economy with more job vacancies and greater availability and uptake of apprenticeships may account for some of this decrease in college applications.
Examined by subject group, the Level 8 data showed the sectors that attracted most interest this year. So here is a list of the risers and fallers of 2018.
Education: Last year saw a 2 per cent decrease in the number of applications applying for courses in education.
There was speculation that two-tier pay scales may be off-putting for applicants but this year there has been a 4 per cent increase in applications to education courses dispelling that theory.
Figures released show 8 per cent increase in first preference for primary school teaching and 4 per cent increase in secondary teaching.
Applications for secondary teaching programmes in DCU alone have gone up by 13 per cent. The points for teaching dropped slightly in 2017, and, perhaps, this has prompted a surge in teaching applications.
Biological and Related Sciences: This has been a sector of continuous growth in recent years with many biopharma companies choosing to locate to Ireland.
Projected levels of employment in biopharma are very promising and it is anticipated that employment in the biopharma industry will reach 33,200 in 2020.
First preference choices for Biological and Related Sciences has gone up by 10 per cent this year.
Engineering: Good news on the engineering front with an increase of 6 per cent in first preference choices.
Engineering applications were down last year which resulted in a significant drop in points for many engineering courses.
The interest in engineering has been restored this year.
There is an acute shortage of engineering professionals in Ireland and the sector is enjoying a period of growth.
Issuing work permits outside the EEA has been necessary to fill these vacant positions.
Agriculture: First choice preferences in agriculture are up by 6 per cent.
Good news for the agri-food industry that has experienced growth and will continue to expand.
The national agri-food strategy, Food Wise 2025, is working to create 23,000 new jobs in this area.
Arts: The applications to Arts programmes are always very popular and eclipsed only by the health and business sectors.
This years’ dramatic 13 per cent decrease in first preference choices for Arts is very unusual.
A possible explanation may be a result of the change UCD made to their new Social Science programme which seems to be attracting a lot of new interest this year.
UCD has traditionally attracted the greatest number of applicants to their Arts programme.
The Social and Behavioural Sciences courses increased by 4 per cent, thereby, adding credence to this theory.
University College Dublin said it continued to be university of first choice in Ireland, with an increased share of first preferences for Level 8 degrees to 13.7 per cent.
Information and Communication Technologies: There is a chronic skills shortage in IT and this years’ CAO applicants are not helping the situation.
There appears to be a downward spiralling interest in this area.
Last year’s figures were down by 5 per cent and the 2018 figures are down by a further 16 per cent.
With so many tech companies locating to Ireland, it is surprising that young people aren’t more attracted to this sector.
On a more hopeful note the BSc in Data Science in DCU is up by 17 per cent in first preference choices.
In a recent survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, data analysts are predicted to be one of the most highly sought employees in the near future.
Journalism and Information: Down by 36 per cent this year. The precarious nature of this job and the rapid change this sector is undergoing may explain the drop-off in interest here.
Physical Sciences: This sector is down by 36 per cent on first preferences, which is another disappointment in attracting students in the STEM area.
Transport Services: First preference applications down by 50 per cent.
FRS would like to wish all those who are beginning their college life this year the very best and to let you know that FRS do offer part time work to those who want and have the time to work alongside college commitments.
Contact FRS in Roscrea on 0505-21166. or FRS Cahir on 052-7441598 if you are interested in part time milking and farm work.
If you are not heading to college but would like to investigate other training and upskilling options visit www.frstraining.com