Week 95: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – another busy week

Latest reflections

Last week was a positive one all round, with over 300 new vacancies spread around the country. Yorkshire and the West Midlands were especially prominent and it’s perhaps a good time to do another quick regional comparison using my ‘per head of population index’ (i.e. the number of apprenticeships per 10,000 population across all 95 weeks).

As ever my data will never be fully accurate but these regional comparisons do reflect that, whilst Greater London still comes out on top, the general situation is not as simple as a ‘north-south divide’:

  • 4.30 London
  • 3.06 Yorkshire & Humber
  • 3.04 West Midlands
  • 2.92 South West
  • 2.91 East of England
  • 2.90 North West
  • 2.81 South East
  • 2.18 North East
  • 2.15 East Midlands

One aspect of this that’s quite encouraging is that geographically there also tends to be a reasonably wide spread of opportunities within each of these regions. For example, the Yorkshire vacancies in Week 95 were located in Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield, Barnsley, York, Halifax, Pontefract, Middlesbrough and Richmond, the latter being the location of this week’s featured image (a photo I took on a visit there in 2016).

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.  

Headline data

During the latest period from 9th to 15th January 2022, I recorded:

  • 131 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 177 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 95 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 15th January 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 8,411 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 8,817 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 17,228

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 95 weeks since lockdown: 88 DAs + 93 HAs = 181 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 17,228 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (3,852)
  • Yorkshire (1,684)
  • West Midlands (1,044)
  • Greater Manchester (941)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (733)
  • Hampshire (663)
  • Berkshire (531)
  • Hertfordshire (486)
  • Surrey (453)
  • Tyne & Wear (377)
  • Nottinghamshire (341)
  • Cheshire (337)
  • Lancashire (336)
  • Sussex (330)
  • Essex (321)
  • Merseyside (315)
  • Suffolk (312)
  • Cambridgeshire (304)
  • Warwickshire (267)
  • Staffordshire (243)
  • Devon (232)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (224)
  • Wiltshire (222)
  • Leicestershire (213)
  • Norfolk (203)
  • Cumbria (200)
  • Kent (198)
  • Buckinghamshire (193)
  • Northamptonshire (190)
  • Bedfordshire (190)
  • Dorset (189)
  • County Durham (183)
  • Oxfordshire (181)
  • Derbyshire (177)
  • Worcestershire (147)
  • Lincolnshire (118)
  • Shropshire (75)
  • Cornwall (44)
  • Isle of Wight (35)
  • Herefordshire (28)
  • 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.

  • 3,852   London (8,962,000: 4.30)
  • 2,584   South East (9,180,000: 2.81)
  • 2,129   North West (7,341,000: 2.90)
  • 1,816   East of England (6,236,000: 2.91)
  • 1,804   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.04)
  • 1,684   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.06)
  • 1,644   South West (5,625,000: 2.92)
  • 1,040   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.15)
  •    582   North East (2,670,000: 2.18)
  •      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 8,411 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: 

962 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

645 Police Constables

529 Software Engineers

521 Chartered Managers (General)

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

349 Civil Engineers

317 Project Managers

285 Data Scientists/Analysts

263 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

225 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

199 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

195 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

182 Design/Development/Mechanical Engineers

144 Digital Marketing Professionals

140 Cyber Security Professionals

137 Supply Chain Leaders

124 Manufacturing Engineers

119 Retail Leaders

110 Aerospace Engineers

  97 Sales Professionals

  91 Financial Services Professionals

  90 Solicitors

  82 Network Engineers

  74 Laboratory Scientists

  73 Construction Managers

  65 Building Services Design Engineers 

  65 Professional Economists 

  59 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  59 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  55 Control Engineers

  53 Nuclear Engineers

  48 Environmental Practitioners

  37 Operating Department Practitioners 

  33 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 5 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   

  23 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology/Neurosensory (9 Neurophysiology, 8 Cardiovascular, 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

    6 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

    5 Operations Analysts

    4 Chartered Legal Executives   

    4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    4 Fire Safety Engineers

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    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, Project Co-ordinator, 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, Sales Account Manager, Sales Operations Manager, 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, Client Success Specialist, Operations Resilience & Change Specialist, Innovation Foundry Specialist and Continuous Improvement & Automation Specialist. Some list and it got even longer this week!

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 8,817 new vacancies spread across 112 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

887 Sales Executives

774 Software Developers 

727 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

708 Data Analysts

615 Project Management Associates

277 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

272 Construction Site Supervisors

241 Tax Technicians

212 Network Engineers

207 Business Analysts  

200 Nursing Associates

179 Software Testers

159 Cyber Security Technologists

159 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

156 Retail Managers

155 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

153 School/Community Sports Coaches    

149 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

148 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

146 Policy Officers

140 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

126 Building Services Engineering Technicians

124 Technician Scientists

118 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

116 Investment Operations Specialists

105 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  96 Marketing Executives

  95 Insurance Professionals 

  91 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  85 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  60 Junior Management Consultants

  56 DevOps Engineers

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  50 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  49 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  45 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  44 Nuclear Technicians

  42 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  41 Adult Care Lead Practitioners

  37 Financial Paraplanners

  34 Quality Practitioners

  32 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  32 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  30 Brewers 

  29 Healthcare Science Associates (10 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

  21 Estate Agency Negotiators

  20 Automation & Control Engineers

  20 Mineral Products Technicians

  19 Internal Audit Practitioners

  18 Business Improvement Specialists 

  17 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

  17 Media Production Co-ordinators

  16 Operations Managers   

  15 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  14 Countryside Rangers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  14 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Railway Engineering Technicians

  10 Intelligence Analysts

    9 Digital Community Managers

    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 Fire Safety Inspectors

    5 Information Managers

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Counter Fraud Investigators

    4 Facilities Managers

    4 Games Developers

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    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 Chaplain

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Community Energy Specialist

    1 Community Safety Officer (Antisocial Behaviour)

    1 Dental Technician

    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, 16/1/2022


One thought on “Week 95: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – another busy week

  1. Hi Alan. Yesterday I used some of your wonderful, painstaking, detailed research to foster a better understanding of Degree Apprenticeships, especially in a rural area, and as part of my annual Year 12 talk on ‘Choosing the right Degree and University’ at Kingdown Academy, Warminster. As you know I use ‘infographics’ a lot so I borrowed your regional figures and put them on a map of UK. I described what you had been doing and your Alan Bullock Careers logo was on those slides. ‘Wiltshire’s’ contribution of 222 DA’s over the 2 year covid period was an eye opener to the 3 sets of students I talked to and I am sure it will also help enormously in 1:1 guidance sessions over the coming weeks. Hopefully other practitioners will use your figures in a similar way and give credit to your selfless research.
    All the best
    Richard Wiltshire
    Independent Careers and Higher Education Adviser.
    Thank you again

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