Week 100: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – the mini-boom continues

Latest reflections

The surge in new DA and HA vacancies that started in the run-up to National Apprenticeships Week 2022 has continued for the third successive week.

In the past the total combined number of new vacancies I’ve recorded per week has averaged around 150 to 160, while occasionally hitting the 200s or even 300s. But the latest combined figures have been 457 (Week 98), 790 (Week 99) and now 468 (Week 100). I think it might tail off a bit from here onwards, and the numbers still fall a long way short of satisfying the potential demand, but there has certainly been a lot of interesting activity recently.

That said, as ever my occupational analyses present quite a stark picture of the labour market landscape in terms of the sectors that are most actively seeking young talent. And this week was a good example, with the biggest recruiters including the following and with vacancies widely dispersed around the country:

  • Barratt Developments: Quantity Surveyors, Construction Managers and the first cohort I’ve ever seen of Design & Construction Managers  
  • Environment Agency: Business Analysts
  • Amazon: Buying & Merchandising
  • Hendy Group: Sales Executives
  • Cabinet Office: Cyber Security (mainly outside London)
  • McCarthy & Stone: Quantity Surveying Technicians and Construction Site Supervisors
  • South Central Ambulance Service: Associate Ambulance Practitioners
  • Roke Manor Research: Data Scientists working in Artificial Intelligence
  • Legal & General: Data Analysts

There’s an intriguing occurrence in my cumulative HA analysis too, with Data Analysts having caught up with Accounting Technicians to the extent that the two are now neck-and-neck on 778 each. The rise of School & Community Sports Coaches has also continued unabated.    

My own county of Hampshire was one of the week’s biggest hotspots, including a few vacancies in my own back yard. So for my featured image I’ve chosen a photo that I literally took from my own back yard (well, patio) last week.  


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 14th to 20th February 2022, I recorded:

  • 189 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 279 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 100 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 20th February 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 9,414 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 10,095 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 19,509

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 100 weeks since lockdown: 94 DAs + 101 HAs = 195 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 19,509 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (4,359)
  • Yorkshire (1,907)
  • West Midlands (1,188)
  • Greater Manchester (1,054)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (827)
  • Hampshire (741)
  • Berkshire (632)
  • Hertfordshire (545)
  • Surrey (493)
  • Tyne & Wear (431)
  • Nottinghamshire (408)
  • Sussex (392)
  • Cheshire (390)
  • Cambridgeshire (369)
  • Essex (367)
  • Suffolk (357)
  • Warwickshire (353)
  • Lancashire (351)
  • Merseyside (328)
  • Staffordshire (261)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (261)
  • Devon (254)
  • Wiltshire (241)
  • Leicestershire (232)
  • Kent (229)
  • Derbyshire (225)
  • Cumbria (220)
  • Norfolk (218)
  • Dorset (212)
  • Buckinghamshire (209)
  • County Durham (208)
  • Bedfordshire (208)
  • Northamptonshire (207)
  • Oxfordshire (204)
  • Worcestershire (150)
  • Lincolnshire (142)
  • Shropshire (89)
  • Cornwall (51)
  • Isle of Wight (39)
  • Northumberland (30)
  • Herefordshire (29)
  • 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.

  • 4,359   London (8,962,000: 4.86)
  • 2,939   South East (9,180,000: 3.20)
  • 2,343   North West (7,341,000: 3.19)
  • 2,070   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.49)
  • 2,064   East of England (6,236,000: 3.31)
  • 1,907   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.47)
  • 1,846   South West (5,625,000: 3.28)
  • 1,217   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.52)
  •    669   North East (2,670,000: 2.51)
  •      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 9,414 new vacancies spread across 96 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,040 Digital Technology Solutions (General) *see below for details

  983 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  645 Police Constables

  604 Software Engineers

  563 Chartered Managers (General)

  500 Nurses (430 Adult, 54 Mental Health, 12 Learning Disability, 4 Child)

  386 Civil Engineers

  384 Project Managers

  341 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  328 Data Scientists/Analysts

  287 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

  233 Design & Development Engineers

  223 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  203 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  171 Supply Chain Leaders

  167 Digital Marketing Professionals

  155 Cyber Security Professionals

  144 Manufacturing Engineers

  125 Sales Professionals

  121 Professional Economists 

  119 Retail Leaders

  112 Aerospace Engineers

  109 Solicitors

    97 Financial Services Professionals

    94 Network Engineers

    93 Laboratory Scientists

    84 Construction Managers

    81 Building Services Design Engineers 

    64 Nuclear Engineers

    63 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    62 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    59 Control Engineers

    57 Environmental Practitioners

    40 Operating Department Practitioners 

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    37 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 9 Therapeutic)

    33 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    30 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    29 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers

    28 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)

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    20 Recruitment Professionals

    19 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    18 Chemical Engineers    

    17 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Journalists

    15 Design & Construction Managers

    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    

    13 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    12 Occupational Therapists

    12 Podiatrists

    12 Public Health Practitioners

    11 Architectural Assistants

    11 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    11 Social Workers 

    10 Internal Audit Professionals

     9 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

     9 Marketing Managers

     8 Gas Transmission Engineers

     8 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

     8 Propulsion Engineers

     7 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

     6 Actuarial Professionals

     5 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

     5 Operations Analysts

     4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

     4 Chartered Legal Executives   

     4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

     4 Fire Safety Engineers

     4 Geotechnical/Geospatial Engineers

     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, Global 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, Security Operations Analyst, Process Mining 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, Digital Manufacturing Engineer, 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 grew even more this week.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 10,095 new vacancies spread across 119 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

994 Sales Executives

850 Software Developers 

778 Data Analysts

778 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

750 Project Management Associates

292 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

290 Construction Site Supervisors

265 Business Analysts  

255 School/Community Sports Coaches    

254 Tax Technicians

232 Network Engineers

218 Nursing Associates

206 Software Testers

188 Retail Managers

183 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

182 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

175 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

172 Cyber Security Technologists

162 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

157 Government Policy Officers

153 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

146 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

141 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

139 Building Services Engineering Technicians

133 Technician Scientists

129 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

128 Investment Operations Specialists

114 Insurance Professionals  

100 Marketing Executives

  92 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  72 DevOps Engineers

  64 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  64 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  62 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  61 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  60 Junior Management Consultants

  49 Recruitment Consultants

  47 Nuclear Technicians

  45 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners (General)

  45 Quality Practitioners

  40 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners

  40 Financial Paraplanners

  37 Healthcare Science Associates (12 Bio/Medical Engineering, 11 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 7 Audiology, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry)

  34 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

  33 Brewers 

  32 Actuarial Technicians

  31 Hospitality Managers

  31 Mineral Products Technicians

  29 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

  28 Journalists

  26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  24 Internal Audit Practitioners

  23 Business Improvement Specialists 

  23 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  22 Automation & Control Engineers

  22 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  21 Estate Agency Negotiators

  21 Railway Engineering Technicians

  18 Dairy Technologists

  18 Operations Managers   

  17 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

  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 Specialists   

  10 Hygiene Specialists

    9 Digital Community Managers

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    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 Facilities Managers

    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 Games Developers

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners (Speech Therapy)

    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 Healthcare Assistant Practitioner (Mammography) 

    1 Horticultural / Landscape Design Practitioner

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Market Research Executive

    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, 20/2/2022


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