CAO courses taken by thousands of school leavers every year are "losing their attractiveness", a new paper warns as it calls for a makeover.
The paper, 'The Future of Undergraduate Technological Higher Education', says if no remedial action is taken, "it is not impossible that both qualifications will gradually disappear".
Demand for Level 6 and Level 7 courses - predominantly offered in institutes of technology - has declined as more students aim for a level 8 honours degree.
The paper, by the Technological Higher Education Association, the body representing the institutes and the new technological university TU Dublin, has been prepared ahead of a seminar on Wednesday.
A Level 6 course leads to a higher certificate, while a Level 7 is an ordinary degree programme, and they are used as stepping stones to further study or employment.
Between 2012 and 2018, there were 46pc fewer CAO acceptances at Level 6 and a 32pc drop in acceptances at Level 7, against a 29pc increase for Level 8.
Programmes at this level are also available for apprentices or participants in the return to education Springboard+ programme.
The report says Level 6/7 programmes are "attuned to particular needs of the labour market" adding it is "critical" the sector is preserved so it can make a renewed contribution to meeting skills needed in a radically changing, digitally driven workplace.