Week 98: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – 450+ new vacancies

Latest reflections

As National Apprenticeships Week 2022 gets under way, it’s good to report a bumper crop of 457 new vacancies in Week 98 across a wide range of occupations, employers and regions. 64 different occupational areas (40 HA and 24 DA) were in the mix this week and almost every county saw some activity. Even Cornwall, Northumberland and Rutland got in on the act with 6 new vacancies between them. In fact the spread of vacancies stretched to all four corners of England, with Penzance, Carlisle, Morpeth and Dover all featuring.

Meanwhile, my cumulative occupational listings continue to reflect a changing employment landscape and the biggest winners this time were Project and Associate Project Managers (60 new DA and HA vacancies), School & Community Sports Coaches (48 new HA vacancies) and Sales Executives (34 new HA vacancies). The Associate Project Manager HAs included 32 with Amazon in London on a starting salary of £30,056. There was also a big showing by global construction consultants Turner & Townsend, with multiple DA vacancies in Project Management, Quantity Surveying and Digital Technology Solutions spread across a range of locations. Other prominent recruiters included DHL, Electricity North West, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ford Motor Company, construction consultants Gardiner & Theobald, retail chain Peacocks and South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

In regional terms Cambridgeshire was especially conspicuous for punching above its weight with 33 new vacancies, including 16 in Cambridge and 12 in Peterborough. Two other hotspots were Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath near Ipswich (17 Software Engineering DAs with BT) and Middlesbrough with 11 (including 9 Electrical Power Engineers with Balfour Beatty, a Software Developer and an Assistant Retail Manager with Peacocks). If I could shift the official regional boundaries and pretend that the whole of the Tees Valley Combined Authority area was part of the North East, then there would have been 33 new vacancies in that region with new postings in Morpeth, Wallsend, Newcastle, Sunderland, Boldon Business Park, Seaham, Stockton, Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar (the last two of which are officially in North Yorkshire).

At least this has given me a reason to choose a photo of one of my favourite structures, the Tees Transporter Bridge, as this week’s featured image. I took it during a scenic drive back from a speaking engagement in Durham in 2016.     


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 30th January to 6th February 2022, I recorded:

  • 202 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 255 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 98 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 6th February 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 8,859 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 9,392 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 18,251

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 98 weeks since lockdown: 90 DAs + 96 HAs = 186 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 18,251 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (4,120)
  • Yorkshire (1,796)
  • West Midlands (1,093)
  • Greater Manchester (991)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (774)
  • Hampshire (685)
  • Berkshire (562)
  • Hertfordshire (515)
  • Surrey (471)
  • Tyne & Wear (399)
  • Cheshire (368)
  • Nottinghamshire (366)
  • Sussex (350)
  • Lancashire (347)
  • Cambridgeshire (343)
  • Essex (342)
  • Suffolk (335)
  • Merseyside (325)
  • Warwickshire (284)
  • Staffordshire (249)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (249)
  • Devon (241)
  • Wiltshire (232)
  • Leicestershire (221)
  • Cumbria (211)
  • Norfolk (210)
  • Kent (208)
  • County Durham (200)
  • Dorset (200)
  • Derbyshire (199)
  • Buckinghamshire (198)
  • Northamptonshire (196)
  • Bedfordshire (195)
  • Oxfordshire (194)
  • Worcestershire (148)
  • Lincolnshire (123)
  • Shropshire (76)
  • Cornwall (47)
  • Isle of Wight (36)
  • Herefordshire (29)
  • Northumberland (25)
  • Rutland (3)
  • 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.

  • 4,120   London (8,962,000: 4.60)
  • 2,704   South East (9,180,000: 2.95)
  • 2,242   North West (7,341,000: 3.05)
  • 1,940   East of England (6,236,000: 3.11)
  • 1,879   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.17)
  • 1,796   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.26)
  • 1,743   South West (5,625,000: 3.10)
  • 1,108   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.29)
  •    624   North East (2,670,000: 2.34)
  •      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 8,859 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: 

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

968 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

645 Police Constables

559 Software Engineers

528 Chartered Managers (General)

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

366 Civil Engineers

347 Project Managers

302 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

300 Data Scientists/Analysts

286 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

205 Design/Development/Mechanical Engineers

201 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

197 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

159 Supply Chain Leaders

148 Digital Marketing Professionals

141 Cyber Security Professionals

132 Manufacturing Engineers

121 Professional Economists 

119 Retail Leaders

112 Aerospace Engineers

102 Solicitors

100 Sales Professionals

  91 Financial Services Professionals

  85 Laboratory Scientists

  82 Network Engineers

  75 Building Services Design Engineers 

  73 Construction Managers

  63 Nuclear Engineers

  62 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  60 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  55 Control Engineers

  54 Environmental Practitioners

  37 Operating Department Practitioners 

  36 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 8 Therapeutic)

  32 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  29 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  26 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  27 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

  27 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers

  26 Town Planners

  25 Automotive Engineers

  24 Clinical Trials Specialists

  23 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology/Neurosensory (9 Neurophysiology, 8 Cardiovascular, 5 Respiratory/Sleep, 1 Audiology)

  22 Packaging Professionals 

  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)

  14 Transport Planners    

  12 Public Health Practitioners

  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

    9 Occupational Therapists

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    8 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

    8 Marketing Managers

    8 Podiatrists

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

    6 Actuarial Professionals

    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 it keeps on growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 9,392 new vacancies spread across 113 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,056pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

947 Sales Executives

822 Software Developers 

768 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

744 Data Analysts

665 Project Management Associates

283 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

281 Construction Site Supervisors

249 Tax Technicians

223 Network Engineers

214 Business Analysts  

213 Nursing Associates

210 School/Community Sports Coaches    

199 Software Testers

172 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

170 Retail Managers

165 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

161 Cyber Security Technologists

151 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

150 Policy Officers

149 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

147 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

132 Building Services Engineering Technicians

129 Technician Scientists

122 Investment Operations Specialists

121 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

118 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

112 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

108 Insurance Professionals  

  98 Marketing Executives

  92 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  61 DevOps Engineers

  60 Junior Management Consultants

  57 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  51 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  49 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  47 Nuclear Technicians

  44 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  42 Adult Care Lead Practitioners

  40 Financial Paraplanners

  37 Healthcare Science Associates (11 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 10 Bio/Medical Engineering, 6 Audiology, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 2 Speech Therapy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Mammography)

  36 Quality Practitioners

  32 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  32 Brewers 

  32 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  29 Hospitality Managers

  29 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

  26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  25 Mineral Products Technicians

  24 Actuarial Technicians

  23 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  21 Estate Agency Negotiators

  20 Automation & Control Engineers

  20 Internal Audit Practitioners

  19 Business Improvement Specialists 

  19 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  19 Journalists

  19 Railway Engineering Technicians

  18 Media Production Co-ordinators

  17 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

  17 Operations Managers   

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  14 Countryside Rangers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  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

    2 Water Recycling Engineers

    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, 6/2/2022


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