PARENTS have been urged to steer their children away from traditional careers.
Old favourites like medicine, law and teaching should be abandoned in favour of science and technology, according to a leading higher education figure.
About 50,000 Leaving Certificate students are preparing to fill in their CAO application for college entry in September.
And parents have been told to take an active hand in their choices and steer them towards sectors where jobs are available.
With the CAO's February 1 deadline looming, Higher Education Authority chairman John Hennessy last night made a strong intervention to advise parents to persuade their children to consider technology, science and engineering.
Parental influence on the choices facing Leaving Cert students should not be underestimated.
A recent study by the Economic and Social Research Institute found that parents, and mothers in particular, were a very important influence on career choices for more than 75pc of sixth years.
Mr Hennessy said: "The mammies and daddies of Ireland need to move away from the notion that future secure employment is in the traditional professions such as medicine, law and teaching.
"The real opportunities for Irish graduates will be in technology, science and engineering, and students with an interest in these areas must be encouraged to pursue courses in those fields."
Mr Hennessy is also chairman and former managing director of engineering giant, Ericsson Ireland. He said that while there was an increasing supply of computing graduates coming through the third-level system, opportunities were growing even faster.
He said there would be healthy demand for talented computing and IT graduates over the coming years and there was a major challenge to ensure there would be enough to meet the clearly articulated needs of the industry.
Ireland is one of the world's global centres for technology and Mr Hennessy said top class tech graduates were needed to work not only for indigenous and multinational companies but also to set up their own companies.
However, while strongly recommending that students consider courses in computing when filling out their CAO forms, he noted that some were "very maths heavy" and that students should contact the third-level institutions to find out more details.