Not all school-leavers need to get a degree, according to a leading economist.
There are a very large number of jobs currently waiting to be filled that do not need higher education, said Dr John Sweeney, a policy analyst with the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).
It was wrong, he said, "to put all the eggs into the higher education basket in meeting the Irish economy skill needs".
Ireland is a European leader in terms of the number of young people going into higher education and Dr Sweeney said "we have become a third-level society".
His comments came a day after figures for this year's college entrants show an increase to 47,000 first years in Ireland this autumn - up from 38,000 a decade ago - and most of them doing honours degrees.
But, speaking at the annual meeting of Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) stressed the need to develop the further education sector, best known for post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses, and apprenticeships.
He said that this year, as in 2012, the majority of vacancies which large multinationals are having difficulty in filling are positions requiring 'entry level' or 'competent' skill sets and not experts.
Dr Sweeney said the skill sets required for these positions were well within the range of well-designed further education and training programmes.
He said that many jobs formerly considered low-skilled needed to be reconceptualised and a commitment given to significantly upskill people for them.