A report from the National Competitiveness Council has raised serious concerns about Ireland's underachievement in maths.

According to the report, Irish students lag well behind students in other developed nations, highlighting concerns about the country's future competitiveness.

The National Competitiveness Council blames uninspiring teaching, lack of application and the CAO points system for the maths crisis.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including new targets for the number of students sitting higher level maths in the Leaving Certificate.

It also says that where maths is a required subject for entry to a college course it should be included among the six subjects counted for CAO points purposes.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he shares the council's concerns.

Minister Quinn said the incentive has to be there for students to take the higher level paper.

He said: "Young people are very smart and they take the easiest way to get the maximum points that they need. Why wouldn't they? Why would you go up the cliff face when you can stroll up the path?

"And that's what they are doing at the present moment. We've got to in fact make the cliff face much more attractive by giving far more marks for a double examination subject."

He also said "Project Maths" has been rolled out, further training has been given to maths teachers and the primary teacher training course has been increased from three years to four, with a focus on numeracy skills.

He is currently consulting with universities on changes to the points system and is expecting a report shortly, but he said that any reform will take between five to ten years to fully implement.

Also on the programme, Dr Seán McDonagh of the NCC said maths is important and is key to Ireland's future competitiveness.

He said: "Maths is a very special subject. Some people still unfortunately regard it as just another subject.

“But it's very special and key to many of the careers that we wish to promote in Ireland's economy and it's key to Ireland's comparative competitiveness."