Week 94: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – it’s all about data!

Latest reflections

2022 started with a decent crop of new HAs and a steady trickle of new DAs. In particular, the rise and rise of careers in Data continued unabated, with Data Science and Data Analytics accounting for 11% of all new DA and HA vacancies this week.

The other main highlight was the posting of 13 places on the 2022 Engineering Design Apprenticeship programme with Sellafield Ltd at Risley, near Warrington in Cheshire. If I had to pick out one borough in England that punches well above its weight in the post-18 apprenticeship stakes, Warrington would probably be top of the list (with Wakefield in West Yorkshire possibly the runner-up). A total of 92 vacancies have been posted in the borough of Warrington (51 DAs and 41 HAs) in the 94 weeks post-lockdown, which would even give it a slight edge over Greater London when measured per head of population. For that reason, and because of my passion for canals, a local scene is this week’s choice of featured image (courtesy of 334926 at Pixabay).

Updated background and methodology

Since the first ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020, I’ve kept a record of new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies posted in England and in doing so have built up an evolving occupational and regional analysis. I largely use data extracted every week from the government’s ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website, whilst also keeping an eye on other national vacancy sources including NHS Jobs, Not Going to Uni, Rate My Apprenticeship, Amazing Apprenticeships, UCAS, Prospects and Investment 20/20.

I collated similar data for a period of 70 weeks prior to the March 2020 lockdown and my weekly headline data now compares the pre-lockdown and post-lockdown figures, using the two 70-week periods either side of lockdown as a benchmark.

My target audience is Level 3 school and college leavers and their parents, carers, teachers and advisers. Therefore, I only include vacancies at Levels 4 to 7 that ‘work-ready’ 18/19-year-olds seeking their first permanent role could reasonably apply for, whether at the point of leaving school/college or after a few months of temporary experience. If more than a year’s permanent experience is clearly required, I don’t include the vacancy in my figures. I would emphasise the term ‘work-ready’ because one of the factors that has increasingly struck me is the extent to which academic qualifications alone will rarely be enough to compete successfully for a higher or degree apprenticeship. Whilst a UCAS points score of around 112 is often needed for DAs (sometimes more, sometimes less), it’s otherwise much more about the skills, qualities and insights you can bring. STEM subjects will also put potential applicants at a distinct advantage in terms of opening up a wider range of options.

My data will never be fully reliable because not all vacancies are advertised nationally in a way that also gives an indication of actual numbers and locations. However, the analyses that I’ve built up paint an intriguing picture of what’s out there in a changing post-18 career landscape. The figures also suggest that supply is never likely to match demand and that there may be a significant mismatch between the occupations to which young people often aspire and the reality of what’s available.  

One further and slightly confusing factor to take into account is that it’s quite normal for some 18/19-year-old school/college leavers to apply for lower level apprenticeships too, especially at Level 3. In fact, I sometimes see Level 3 apprenticeships that ask for A Level or equivalent qualifications and Level 4 to 7 apprenticeships that don’t. It’s one of those grey areas well known to Careers practitioners where it’s important to give advice that’s carefully nuanced.   

Headline data

During the latest period from 2nd to 8th January 2022, I recorded:

  • 30 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 92 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 94 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 8th January 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 8,280 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 8,640 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 16,920

Using the 70 weeks either side of the initial COVID-19 lockdown (on 23/3/20) as a benchmark, my latest comparative figures are as follows:

  • Weekly average in the 70 weeks before lockdown: 82 DAs + 71 HAs = 153 total
  • Weekly average in the 70 weeks after lockdown: 84 DAs + 75 HAs = 159 total
  • Weekly average in the 94 weeks since lockdown: 88 DAs + 92 HAs = 180 total

This shows that both DAs and especially HAs have more than fully recovered since the initial reductions in the early days of the pandemic, although it’s fair to say that I’m being more proactive in the way I track down and monitor new vacancies than I was in pre-COVID days.

Updated regional analysis

The 16,920 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (3,815)
  • Yorkshire (1,614)
  • West Midlands (1,014)
  • Greater Manchester (936)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (728)
  • Hampshire (655)
  • Berkshire (527)
  • Hertfordshire (483)
  • Surrey (450)
  • Tyne & Wear (371)
  • Nottinghamshire (340)
  • Cheshire (328)
  • Lancashire (323)
  • Sussex (317)
  • Essex (312)
  • Suffolk (311)
  • Merseyside (307)
  • Cambridgeshire (300)
  • Warwickshire (248)
  • Staffordshire (243)
  • Devon (232)
  • Wiltshire (214)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (213)
  • Leicestershire (211)
  • Norfolk (200)
  • Cumbria (195)
  • Kent (193)
  • Buckinghamshire (192)
  • Northamptonshire (190)
  • Bedfordshire (189)
  • Dorset (189)
  • County Durham (182)
  • Oxfordshire (174)
  • Derbyshire (172)
  • Worcestershire (145)
  • Lincolnshire (114)
  • Shropshire (71)
  • Cornwall (44)
  • Isle of Wight (35)
  • Herefordshire (27)
  • Northumberland (22)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Work from your own home (8)
  • Not specified (85) 

The following list shows how those stats add up regionally. In brackets I’ve included the total population of each region using the latest ONS data rounded to the nearest 1,000, which gives a sense of proportion to the apprenticeship figures. For example, in population terms the North East is by far the smallest region, so the differences in apprenticeship numbers are not quite as disproportionate as they might appear. (NB In my data Yorkshire & Humber includes North Humberside and East Midlands includes South Humberside.)

As a way of quantifying this a little further, I’ve added an extra stat in bold which indexes the apprenticeship figures against the total population of each region. In effect, the index equals the number of DAs and HAs post-lockdown per 10,000 of total population.

  • 3,815   London (8,962,000: 4.26)
  • 2,543   South East (9,180,000: 2.77)
  • 2,089   North West (7,341,000: 2.83)
  • 1,795   East of England (6,236,000: 2.88)
  • 1,748   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.95)
  • 1,620   South West (5,625,000: 2.88)
  • 1,614   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 2.93)
  • 1,028   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.13)
  •    575   North East (2,670,000: 2.15)
  •      93   Not specified/homeworking 

Updated occupational analysis

Each week I update my occupational analysis by breaking down the new vacancies into what I loosely term ‘occupational areas’, which in some cases differ from the official apprenticeship standards terminology. Since the start of lockdown in March 2020, the complete lists of occupational areas represented in each category are given below. In my view, this provides a fascinating insight into what the emerging occupations are in a changing landscape.

Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7):

In total there have been 8,280 new vacancies spread across 91 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

954 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

934 Digital Technology Solutions (General) *see below for details

645 Police Constables

521 Chartered Managers (General)

521 Software Engineers

494 Nurses (422 Adult, 51 Mental Health, 12 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 4 Children)

348 Civil Engineers

317 Project Managers

280 Data Scientists/Analysts

238 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

224 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

199 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

186 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

173 Product Design & Development / Mechanical Engineers

143 Digital Marketing Professionals

137 Cyber Security Professionals

135 Supply Chain Leaders

119 Retail Leaders

110 Aerospace Engineers

108 Manufacturing Engineers

  94 Sales Professionals

  90 Solicitors

  85 Financial Services Professionals

  82 Network Engineers

  73 Laboratory Scientists

  67 Construction Managers

  65 Professional Economists 

  63 Building Services Design Engineers 

  58 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  58 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  53 Nuclear Engineers

  52 Control Engineers

  48 Environmental Practitioners

  36 Operating Department Practitioners 

  32 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 4 Therapeutic)

  30 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  29 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  26 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

  26 Town Planners

  25 Automotive Engineers

  24 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  22 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology/Neurosensory (8 Cardiovascular, 8 Neurophysiology, 5 Respiratory/Sleep, 1 Audiology)

  22 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers

  22 Packaging Professionals

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  20 Recruitment Professionals

  19 Human Resources / People Professionals  

  17 Environmental Health Officers

  15 Chemical Engineers    

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Clinical Engineering / Medical Physics (4 Nuclear Medicine, 3 Medical Engineering, 2 Radiation Physics, 2 Radiotherapy Engineering, 1 Radiotherapy Dosimetry, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

  12 Public Health Practitioners

  12 Transport Planners    

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  11 Architectural Assistants

  11 Social Workers 

  10 Internal Audit Professionals

  10 Junior Traders (Global Markets)    

    9 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    8 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

    8 Occupational Therapists

    8 Podiatrists

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Marketing Managers

    6 Actuarial Professionals

    5 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

    5 Operations Analysts

    4 Chartered Legal Executives   

    4 Fire Safety Engineers

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Digital Transformation Engineers

    3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

    3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

    2 Assistant Teachers

    2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

    2 Buying & Procurement Professionals

    2 Education Technology Specialists

    2 Journalists

    2 Midwives

    2 Pensions Professionals

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Brewer

    1 Charity Manager

    1 Events Manager

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Population Health Intelligence Analyst

    1 Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions (General) has encompassed or led to the following range of specialisms:   

Software Engineer, Software Developer, Software Tester, Network Engineer, Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Data Architect, Network Architect, Enterprise Architect, Cyber Security Specialist, IT Consultant, Solutions Consultant, Software Implementation Consultant, Software Consultant, Project Manager, Business Intelligence Specialist, Business Systems Engineer/Developer, Automation Developer, Technology Architect, Technology Manager, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst, Agile Analyst, Application Support Analyst, Business Analyst, Global Mobility Analyst, Content Analyst, User Experience Researcher, Junior Product Manager, Infrastructure Specialist, FinTech Expert, DevOps Engineer, Solutions Engineer, Support Engineer, Cloud Engineer, Sales Engineer, Scientific Computing Specialist, Platform Manager, Service Manager, Engineering Information Manager, Amazon Web Services Specialist, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition Specialist, Fixed Telecoms Specialist, IT Service Desk Analyst, Support Desk Analyst, WordPress Developer, Technology Operations & Service Delivery Specialist, Functional Consultant, Technical Consultant, Solution Engineering & Development Specialist, Client Delivery Specialist, Operations Resilience & Change Specialist, Innovation Foundry, and Continuous Improvement & Automation Specialist. Some list and it just keeps on growing!

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 8,640 new vacancies spread across 111 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

838 Sales Executives

765 Software Developers 

717 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

690 Data Analysts

604 Project Management Associates

275 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

268 Construction Site Supervisors

236 Tax Technicians

208 Network Engineers

206 Business Analysts  

200 Nursing Associates

175 Software Testers

157 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

156 Retail Managers

155 Cyber Security Technologists

153 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

148 School/Community Sports Coaches    

146 Policy Officers

143 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

142 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

140 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

125 Building Services Engineering Technicians

123 Technician Scientists

118 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

112 Investment Operations Specialists

105 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  95 Insurance Professionals 

  94 Marketing Executives

  90 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  79 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  60 Junior Management Consultants

  56 DevOps Engineers

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  49 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  49 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  44 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  42 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  41 Adult Care Lead Practitioners

  40 Nuclear Technicians

  37 Financial Paraplanners

  33 Quality Practitioners

  32 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  29 Brewers 

  28 Healthcare Science Associates (9 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 6 Audiology, 4 Medical Engineering, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 2 Speech Therapy, 1 Biochemistry)

  28 Hospitality Managers

  27 Learning Mentors / Skills & Development Practitioners

  26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  24 Actuarial Technicians

  22 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  21 Estate Agency Negotiators

  20 Automation & Control Engineers

  20 Intelligence Analysts

  19 Internal Audit Practitioners

  19 Mineral Products Technicians

  18 Business Improvement Specialists 

  17 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  16 Operations Managers   

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  14 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  14 Countryside Rangers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  14 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  10 Railway Engineering Technicians

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    8 Paralegals

    7 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    6 Employability Practitioners

    6 School Business Professionals

    6 Specialist Sports Coaches (4 Football, 1 Tennis, 1 Gymnastics & Trampoline)

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Digital Community Managers

    5 Fire Safety Inspectors

    5 Information Managers

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Counter Fraud Investigators

    4 Games Developers

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Facilities Managers

    3 Pensions Administrators

    3 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    3 Senior Culinary Chefs

    3 Sports Development Officers   

    2 Acoustics Technicians

    2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technicians

    2 Early Intervention Practitioners

    2 Historic Site Advisers

    2 Junior VFX Artists

    2 Port Marine Operations Officers

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Arboriculturist

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Community Energy Specialist

    1 Dental Technician

    1 Diabetes Analyst

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Fitness Instructor

    1 Horticultural / Landscape Design Practitioner

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Metrology Technician

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

    1 Wedding Venue Co-ordinator

Going forward

Look out for further updates in the weeks ahead. I will post them on a weekly basis whenever possible.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 9/1/2022


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