There has been a rise this year in the number of people applying for teacher training courses.

The latest data from the CAO shows a 4% increase in first choice applications for degree courses in education.

This contrasts with a 4.5% fall in overall numbers applying to third level programmes in general.

First choice applications for primary teaching are up by 8%, while the number putting second-level education as their first choice has risen by 4%.

The rise in teacher applications comes amid ongoing concern over teacher shortages at both primary and second level.

It been welcomed by Minister for Education Richard Bruton, who said teaching was a very attractive career option.

Commenting on the significant drop in applications overall, which was first reported last month, Vice-Provost of Trinity College Chris Morash said the figures were the barometer of a healthy economy.

"Historically we know that when employment rises, applications to third-level drop, as more students go directly into work," he said.

The decrease is good news for applicants, who may see points fall for some subjects as a result.

The latest data reveals a decrease of 9% in applications for the State's Higher Education Access Programme.

The HEAR programme is designed to encourage and support students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and 1,023 fewer applications were received this year.

This indicates that more young people from poorer backgrounds may be considering other options, such as going directly into the workforce or applying to training schemes, such as apprenticeships.

The CAO figures also show a 12% reduction in college applications from Northern Ireland. This may or may not be as a result of Brexit.

It is worth noting that some counties in the Republic of Ireland, such as Monaghan and Donegal, have recorded similar decreases.

UK applications are down by 6% while those from other EU countries have risen by 4%.

However, these numbers remain extremely low. The percentages represent 56 fewer applications from the UK and 73 more from the EU.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland has welcomed the rise in teacher training applications.

Despite this the union said the 4% increase was based on levels that had already collapsed due to pay inequality.

The union says applications for post-primary teaching courses had collapsed by 62% following the introduction of pay cuts for new entrants to the profession.

In a statement the union said today's "small increase" would not patch up the deficits already in the system.