MORE than 4,000 people have applied to the Irish Aviation Authority for just 25 trainee air traffic controller jobs.
More than 900 applications were received in the last few hours before yesterday's deadline -- making a record total of 4,132 applications.
The original closing time was midday but it was extended until 4pm to enable Leaving Cert students to collect their exam results and then make a final decision on whether to apply.
The country's current economic woes have led to an increased demand among young people to gain such jobs in the State sector.
The last time trainees were sought, three years ago, there were 1,386 applicants for 25 positions.
Fully-qualified controllers can earn up to €158,000 a year, including pension benefits.
A spokesman for the aviation authority, Martin Towey, said greater interest was anticipated this year as a result of the economic crisis.
"It takes a certain type of person to do the job, he said. "You could be the smartest person in the country, but you need spatial awareness among other things. Not everyone is cut out for it."
Successful applicants will sit a written aptitude test, a computer aptitude test, and two interviews.
The students will be based in Dublin, Shannon and Cork and will be paid an annual allowance of €18,506.
Their salary -- when qualified -- will start at €50,805.