Week 97: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – a tasty week

Latest reflections

One of the most revealing aspects of observing higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies is the frequent appearance of emerging occupations that might otherwise tend to fly under the radar. This week was no exception with Supply Chain Leaders especially prominent along with a scattering of DevOps Engineers, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners, Paraplanners and Therapeutic Radiographers and single vacancies for a User Experience Designer, Environmental Practitioner, Creative Digital Design Professional, Cardiorespiratory Healthcare Science Associate, Regulatory Compliance Officer, Early Years Lead Practitioner and Brewer to name just a few.

There were also two Food Technology DAs, one of which was for a Chocolate Research & Development Apprentice working on products like Dairy Milk and Creme Eggs. A key point about the chocolate vacancy is the wording of the person spec which calls for A-levels or equivalent qualifications that should include maths and “at least one further STEM based subject”. It reinforces my observation that STEM subjects will open a lot more doors.

Meanwhile, the top vacancy hotspots included Macclesfield (AstraZeneca) and Warwick (National Grid) and this week’s featured image is a photo I took at around this time of year on a train as it left the outskirts of snowy Macclesfield en route to a conference in Manchester.

Finally, based around the data in my weekly blog, I recorded a 17-minute Zoom talk on Post-18 Apprenticeships a couple of weeks ago for a school Year 12 event and I could make it available to other schools, along with a PDF of the slides updated with my very latest figures. There would be a modest fee involved but ,with National Apprenticeship Week imminent, drop me a line if you want to know more (with no obligation).  

Updated background

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 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 normally include the vacancy in my figures.

I would also emphasise the term ‘work-ready’ because academic qualifications alone will never 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 an 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 something of a 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 also true that a significant proportion of opportunities will be snapped up by older applicants. It’s a competitive market place, but don’t be put off by that!  

Headline data

During the latest period from 23rd to 29th January 2022, I recorded:

  • 102 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 187 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 97 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 29th January 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 8,657 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 9,137 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 17,794

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 97 weeks since lockdown: 89 DAs + 94 HAs = 183 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 17,794 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (4,008)
  • Yorkshire (1,747)
  • West Midlands (1,078)
  • Greater Manchester (969)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (752)
  • Hampshire (679)
  • Berkshire (547)
  • Hertfordshire (498)
  • Surrey (466)
  • Tyne & Wear (388)
  • Cheshire (365)
  • Nottinghamshire (356)
  • Sussex (345)
  • Lancashire (341)
  • Merseyside (324)
  • Essex (324)
  • Suffolk (316)
  • Cambridgeshire (312)
  • Warwickshire (279)
  • Staffordshire (247)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (244)
  • Devon (235)
  • Wiltshire (226)
  • Leicestershire (216)
  • Norfolk (204)
  • Cumbria (203)
  • Kent (200)
  • Dorset (198)
  • Buckinghamshire (197)
  • Bedfordshire (195)
  • Northamptonshire (194)
  • County Durham (191)
  • Derbyshire (189)
  • Oxfordshire (189)
  • Worcestershire (148)
  • Lincolnshire (120)
  • Shropshire (75)
  • Cornwall (44)
  • Isle of Wight (36)
  • Herefordshire (29)
  • Northumberland (24)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Home working (10)
  • 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. (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.

  • 4,008   London (8,962,000: 4.47)
  • 2,659   South East (9,180,000: 2.90)
  • 2,202   North West (7,341,000: 3.00)
  • 1,856   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.13)
  • 1,849   East of England (6,236,000: 2.97)
  • 1,747   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.17)
  • 1,699   South West (5,625,000: 3.02)
  • 1,076   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.22)
  •    603   North East (2,670,000: 2.26)
  •      95   Not specified / home working 

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 8,657 new vacancies spread across 92 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

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

962 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

645 Police Constables

538 Software Engineers

527 Chartered Managers (General)

494 Nurses (427 Adult, 51 Mental Health, 12 Learning Disability, 4 Child)

354 Civil Engineers

325 Project Managers

297 Data Scientists/Analysts

279 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

273 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

201 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

197 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

185 Design/Development/Mechanical Engineers

149 Supply Chain Leaders

148 Digital Marketing Professionals

141 Cyber Security Professionals

131 Manufacturing Engineers

121 Professional Economists 

119 Retail Leaders

110 Aerospace Engineers

100 Sales Professionals

  91 Financial Services Professionals

  91 Solicitors

  82 Laboratory Scientists

  82 Network Engineers

  73 Construction Managers

  65 Building Services Design Engineers 

  63 Nuclear Engineers

  62 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  60 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  55 Control Engineers

  49 Environmental Practitioners

  37 Operating Department Practitioners 

  36 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 8 Therapeutic)

  30 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  29 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  26 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  26 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

  26 Town Planners

  25 Automotive Engineers

  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  

  18 Chemical Engineers    

  17 Environmental Health Officers

  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 Marketing Managers

    8 Occupational Therapists

    8 Podiatrists

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    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 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

    3 Digital Transformation Engineers

    3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

    3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

    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 Facilities 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, Full Stack 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, Automation 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, Client Consultant, Operations Resilience & Change Specialist, Innovation Foundry Specialist, Continuous Improvement & Automation Specialist and Railway Signalling Control Systems Specialist.

That’s some list! And once again it grew even longer this week.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 9,137 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: 

913 Sales Executives

813 Software Developers 

759 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

736 Data Analysts

627 Project Management Associates

283 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

281 Construction Site Supervisors

244 Tax Technicians

221 Network Engineers

213 Business Analysts  

203 Nursing Associates

193 Software Testers

166 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

162 School/Community Sports Coaches    

161 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

160 Cyber Security Technologists

158 Retail Managers

150 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

148 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

147 Policy Officers

144 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

131 Building Services Engineering Technicians

124 Technician Scientists

122 Investment Operations Specialists

118 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

112 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

107 Insurance Professionals  

101 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  97 Marketing Executives

  92 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  60 DevOps Engineers

  60 Junior Management Consultants

  55 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  50 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  49 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  47 Nuclear Technicians

  42 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  41 Adult Care Lead Practitioners

  39 Financial Paraplanners

  35 Quality Practitioners

  32 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  32 Brewers 

  32 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  31 Healthcare Science Associates (11 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 6 Audiology, 5 Bio/Medical Engineering, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 2 Speech Therapy, 1 Biochemistry)

  29 Hospitality Managers

  29 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

  26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  25 Mineral Products Technicians

  24 Actuarial Technicians

  22 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  21 Estate Agency Negotiators

  20 Automation & Control Engineers

  19 Business Improvement Specialists 

  19 Internal Audit Practitioners

  19 Railway Engineering Technicians

  18 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  18 Media Production Co-ordinators

  17 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

  16 Operations Managers   

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  14 Countryside Rangers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 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, 30/1/2022


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