Week 99: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – a prolific week

Latest reflections

National Apprenticeships Week 2022 certainly delivered the goods, producing by far the highest number of vacancies I’ve ever recorded. From Bude to Morpeth and from Ambleside to Sandwich, most parts of England got in on the act.

Numbers were especially high in the West Midlands, while the East Midlands and North East also punched well above their weight. There were even a couple of healthcare vacancies on the Isle of Wight, including the first Prosthetist/Orthotist DA I’ve ever seen in partnership with the University of Derby.

This week’s occupational spread was wide too, spanning 38 DA and 47 HA occupations. And there were also some other ‘new entries’, including 5 HAs in Land Referencing and a Digital Accessibility Specialist. My cumulative occupational analyses below continue to reflect the bigger picture as numbers grow and patterns emerge and consolidate.

Amongst numerous other developments this week, I was able to upwardly adjust my data for Jaguar Land Rover’s 2022 vacancies. With sites in Warwickshire and West Midlands, both counties were beneficiaries with Coventry at the centre. Hence, my featured image for the week is a photo I took several years ago after a speaking engagement at Coventry University.


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, so work-readiness really matters.  

Headline data

During the latest period from 7th to 13th February 2022, I recorded:

  • 366 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 424 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 99 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 13th February 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 9,225 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 9,816 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 19,041

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 99 weeks since lockdown: 93 DAs + 99 HAs = 192 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. Whilst it’s fair to say that I’m being more thorough in the way I track down and monitor new vacancies than I was in pre-COVID days, I’m definitely sensing an upward trend in volume compared with how things looked two to three years ago.

Updated regional analysis

The 19,041 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (4,249)
  • Yorkshire (1,868)
  • West Midlands (1,164)
  • Greater Manchester (1,041)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (802)
  • Hampshire (706)
  • Berkshire (624)
  • Hertfordshire (533)
  • Surrey (485)
  • Tyne & Wear (425)
  • Nottinghamshire (393)
  • Sussex (384)
  • Cheshire (375)
  • Essex (357)
  • Cambridgeshire (356)
  • Warwickshire (350)
  • Lancashire (349)
  • Suffolk (348)
  • Merseyside (327)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (255)
  • Staffordshire (254)
  • Devon (248)
  • Wiltshire (234)
  • Leicestershire (230)
  • Derbyshire (223)
  • Norfolk (214)
  • Kent (214)
  • Cumbria (212)
  • County Durham (207)
  • Bedfordshire (204)
  • Dorset (203)
  • Oxfordshire (200)
  • Buckinghamshire (199)
  • Northamptonshire (198)
  • Worcestershire (149)
  • Lincolnshire (137)
  • Shropshire (83)
  • Cornwall (50)
  • Isle of Wight (38)
  • Herefordshire (29)
  • Northumberland (26)
  • 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.

  • 4,249   London (8,962,000: 4.74)
  • 2,850   South East (9,180,000: 3.10)
  • 2,304   North West (7,341,000: 3.14)
  • 2,029   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.42)
  • 2,012   East of England (6,236,000: 3.23)
  • 1,868   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.39)
  • 1,792   South West (5,625,000: 3.19)
  • 1,184   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.45)
  •    658   North East (2,670,000: 2.46)
  •      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 9,225 new vacancies spread across 94 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,023 Digital Technology Solutions (General) *see below for details

  980 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  645 Police Constables

  596 Software Engineers

  560 Chartered Managers (General)

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

  380 Civil Engineers

  379 Project Managers

  315 Data Scientists/Analysts

  313 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  286 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

  232 Design & Development Engineers

  218 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  202 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  166 Supply Chain Leaders

  156 Digital Marketing Professionals

  144 Cyber Security Professionals

  144 Manufacturing Engineers

  121 Professional Economists 

  119 Retail Leaders

  118 Sales Professionals

  112 Aerospace Engineers

  106 Solicitors

   93 Laboratory Scientists

   91 Financial Services Professionals

   91 Network Engineers

    81 Building Services Design Engineers 

    74 Construction Managers

    63 Nuclear Engineers

    62 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    62 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    59 Control Engineers

    56 Environmental Practitioners

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    38 Operating Department Practitioners 

    36 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 8 Therapeutic)

    32 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    29 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    29 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers

    26 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    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

    17 Journalists

    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 Junior Traders (Financial Markets)     

    14 Transport Planners    

    12 Occupational Therapists

    12 Public Health Practitioners

    12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    11 Architectural Assistants

    11 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    11 Social Workers 

    10 Internal Audit Professionals

     9 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

     9 Podiatrists

     8 Gas Transmission Engineers

     8 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

     8 Marketing Managers

     8 Propulsion Engineers

     7 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

     6 Actuarial Professionals

     5 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

     5 Operations Analysts

     4 Chartered Legal Executives   

     4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

     4 Fire Safety Engineers

     3 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

     3 Digital Transformation Engineers

     3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

     3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

     3 Physiotherapists

     3 TV Production Managers

     2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

     2 Buying & Procurement Professionals

     2 Education Technology Specialists

     2 Midwives

     2 Pensions Professionals

     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 Prosthetist & Orthotist

     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 Support Analyst, 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 9,816 new vacancies spread across 116 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

968 Sales Executives

839 Software Developers 

774 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

757 Data Analysts

742 Project Management Associates

291 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

284 Construction Site Supervisors

251 Tax Technicians

241 School/Community Sports Coaches    

230 Network Engineers

221 Business Analysts  

213 Nursing Associates

202 Software Testers

182 Retail Managers

181 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

172 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

163 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

163 Cyber Security Technologists

157 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

157 Government Policy Officers

152 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

140 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

132 Building Services Engineering Technicians

132 Technician Scientists

128 Investment Operations Specialists

118 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

114 Insurance Professionals  

112 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  98 Marketing Executives

  92 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  69 DevOps Engineers

  64 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  64 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  62 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  60 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  60 Junior Management Consultants

  52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners

  47 Nuclear Technicians

  47 Recruitment Consultants

  41 Quality Practitioners

  40 Financial Paraplanners

  38 Healthcare Science Associates (11 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 10 Bio/Medical Engineering, 7 Audiology, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 2 Speech Therapy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Mammography)

   34 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

  32 Actuarial Technicians

  32 Brewers 

  32 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  31 Hospitality Managers

  29 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

  28 Journalists

  28 Mineral Products Technicians

  26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  24 Internal Audit Practitioners

  23 Business Improvement Specialists 

  23 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  21 Automation & Control Engineers

  21 Estate Agency Negotiators

  19 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  19 Railway Engineering Technicians

  18 Dairy Technologists

  17 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

  17 Operations Managers   

  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

  11 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists   

    9 Digital Community Managers

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Hygiene Specialists

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

    8 Paralegals

    7 Employability Practitioners

    7 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    6 Information Managers

    6 School Business Professionals

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

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Fire Safety Inspectors

    5 Land Referencing Specialists

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Counter Fraud Investigators

    4 Facilities Managers

    4 Games Developers

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Pensions Administrators

    3 Port Marine Operations Officers

    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 Tax Technology Technicians

    2 Town Planning Assistants 

    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 Digital Accessibility Specialist

    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, 14/2/2022


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