SCHOOL leavers are swinging back to college courses leading to careers in the construction industry and professions such as law and architecture.
A breakdown of this year's applications to the CAO shows a big return in popularity in areas that suffered a big decline after the economic crash and end of the building boom.
The figures also show a continuing resurgence in interest in business courses, with a rise of almost six per cent in first preferences for honours degree courses.
CAO applications are at a record high for this time of the year, at 73,091, up almost three per cent on 2013.
Rising college applications reflect the population boom as well growing numbers of second-level students opting to stay on in school to sit the Leaving Certificate.
Six years on from the building industry crash, a notable feature of this year's CAO applications is the return in interest in construction.
Although the numbers are small, first preferences for Level 8 (honours degree) courses in the built environment category have more than doubled from 133 in 2013 to 312. Meanwhile, first preferences for Level 8 architecture courses are up 15 per cent on the year, while law has seen a four per cent rise.
The rise in popularity in engineering and technology courses is continuing with a 10 per cent rise in first preferences, while agriculture/horticulture has also retained its attraction, with 12 per cent growth.
Science has enjoyed a huge surge in interest in recent years, but that has slipped this year with applications rising by less than one per cent.