Week 109: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England – an evolving landscape

Latest reflections

Despite a couple of weeks in Africa and a break over the Easter period, I still kept a close eye on the post-18 apprenticeships landscape and, sure enough, lots of interesting activity has taken place.

The most significant development was a substantial posting of Police Constable DA vacancies by The Met, which has made an impact on both my occupational and regional data. There’s been plenty of movement in other fields and locations too, most notably in Digital (especially Software, Data, Cyber Security and Fintech specialisms), along with Financial Services, Business Analytics, Public Relations, Surveying, Civil Engineering, Sales and Hospitality, to name a few. Meanwhile, the most notable ‘new entrant’ to make an appearance was Professional Forestry and there has also been a steady trickle of vacancies across a range of NHS professions.

Hence, regular readers might notice some subtle changes and developments in my detailed cumulative data which, as ever, casts an intriguing light on what’s out there in the ever-changing world of professional and technical careers.  

With London being especially prominent in my latest data, my featured image was taken on one of my walks in the capital.  


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, especially NHS Jobs, Not Going to Uni, Rate My Apprenticeship 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 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 those who influence and advise them. 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 a significant 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 five-week period from 21st March to 23rd April 2022, I recorded:

  • 2,576 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 613 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 109 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 23rd April 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 12,424 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 11,268 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 23,692

Using the 70 weeks either side of the initial 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 109 weeks since lockdown: 114 DAs + 103 HAs = 217 total

This shows that both DAs and 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 seeing an upward trend in volume compared with how things looked two to three years ago. That said, with talk of a recession looming, I intend to keep my eye on the ball in the weeks and months ahead to see how the trend pans out if economic turbulence is encountered going forward.  

Updated regional analysis

The 23,692 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (6,758)
  • Yorkshire (2,132)
  • West Midlands (1,311)
  • Greater Manchester (1,204)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (905)
  • Hampshire (801)
  • Berkshire (692)
  • Hertfordshire (616)
  • Surrey (541)
  • Tyne & Wear (455)
  • Nottinghamshire (451)
  • Cheshire (443)
  • Sussex (431)
  • Cambridgeshire (397)
  • Essex (394)
  • Warwickshire (378)
  • Lancashire (374)
  • Suffolk (370)
  • Merseyside (340)
  • Staffordshire (304)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (297)
  • County Durham (296)
  • Wiltshire (294)
  • Devon (292)
  • Leicestershire (276)
  • Bedfordshire (268)
  • Kent (261)
  • Derbyshire (256)
  • Cumbria (247)
  • Oxfordshire (243)
  • Norfolk (242)
  • Northamptonshire (241)
  • Buckinghamshire (236)
  • Dorset (233)
  • Worcestershire (165)
  • Lincolnshire (156)
  • Shropshire (98)
  • Cornwall (86)
  • Isle of Wight (41)
  • Northumberland (32)
  • Herefordshire (31)
  • Rutland (4)
  • Home working (23)
  • Not specified (77) 

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. This currently shows that Yorkshire & Humber and the West Midlands are the ‘best-performing’ regions after London.

  • 6,758   London (8,962,000: 7.54)
  • 3,246   South East (9,180,000: 3.54)
  • 2,608   North West (7,341,000: 3.55)
  • 2,287   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.85)
  • 2,287   East of England (6,236,000: 3.67)
  • 2,132   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.87)
  • 2,107   South West (5,625,000: 3.75)
  • 1,384   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.86)
  •    783   North East (2,670,000: 2.93)
  •    100   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 12,424 new vacancies spread across 99 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

2,720 Police Constables

1,116 Digital Technology Solutions (General) *see below for details

1,001 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  654 Software Engineers

  582 Chartered Managers (General)

  535 Nurses (439 Adult, 75 Mental Health, 16 Learning Disability, 5 Child)

  454 Civil Engineers

  409 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  396 Project Managers

  378 Data Scientists/Analysts

  302 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

  259 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  257 Design & Development Engineers

  248 Supply Chain Leaders

  209 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  183 Cyber Security Professionals

  183 Digital Marketing Professionals

  157 Manufacturing Engineers

  145 Financial Services Professionals

  130 Sales Professionals

  122 Professional Economists 

  119 Retail Leaders

  113 Aerospace Engineers

  112 Laboratory Scientists

  112 Solicitors

  111 Building Services Design Engineers 

    95 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    79 Environmental Practitioners

    72 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    68 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    65 Nuclear Engineers

    60 Control Engineers

    45 Operating Department Practitioners 

    40 Internal Audit Professionals

    39 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 11 Therapeutic)

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    37 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    33 Hospitality Managers

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    31 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers

    30 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    28 Town Planners

    27 Clinical Trials Specialists

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

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Business Analysts

    22 Chemical Engineers    

    21 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Clinical Engineering / Medical Physics (7 Medical Engineering, 5 Nuclear Medicine, 4 Radiation Physics, 3 Radiotherapy Engineering, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

    21 Podiatrists

    20 Recruitment Professionals

    19 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    19 Occupational Therapists

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    18 Transport Planners    

    17 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Journalists

    16 Design & Construction Managers

    16 Social Workers 

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 Junior Traders (Financial Markets)     

    13 Marketing Managers

    12 Architectural Assistants

    12 Public Health Practitioners

    11 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    10 Building Control Surveyors    

    10 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    10 Physiotherapists

      9 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      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 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

      3 Digital Transformation Engineers

      3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

      3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

      3 TV Production Managers

      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, Digital 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, Systems 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, Electronic Systems Design & Development 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 keeps on growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 11,268 new vacancies spread across 122 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,106 Sales Executives

  908 Software Developers 

  859 Data Analysts

  822 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  798 Project Management Associates

  345 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  318 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  311 Construction Site Supervisors

  304 Business Analysts  

  275 Nursing Associates

  274 Taxation Technicians

  265 Network Engineers

  234 Software Testers

  224 Retail Managers

  218 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  205 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  197 Cyber Security Technologists

  196 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  184 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  179 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  176 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  169 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  163 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  158 Government Policy Officers

  147 Technician Scientists

  133 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  121 Insurance Professionals  

  112 Marketing Executives

    96 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    94 DevOps Engineers

    77 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    72 Junior Management Consultants

    69 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    68 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    67 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    60 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    57 Quality Practitioners

    56 Financial Advisers / Paraplanners

    56 Healthcare Science Associates (16 Audiology / Hearing Aid Dispensers, 14 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 12 Bio/Medical Engineering, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Mammography, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Tissue Retrieval)   

    56 Mineral Products Technicians

    47 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

    47 Nuclear Technicians

    43 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    37 Brewers 

    34 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    32 Actuarial Technicians

    32 Hospitality Managers

    30 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    28 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    28 Journalists

    27 Internal Audit Practitioners

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    25 Business Improvement Specialists 

    25 Dairy Technologists

    24 Automation & Control Engineers

    23 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    22 Railway Engineering Technicians

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    20 Operations Managers   

    18 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

    17 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    15 Intelligence Analysts

    14 Countryside Rangers

    14 Fibre Cable Engineers

    14 Police Community Support Officers

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    11 Logistics Specialists   

    10 Hygiene Specialists

      9 Digital Community Managers

      9 Land Referencers      

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      8 Paralegals

      8 Specialist Sports Coaches (5 Football, 2 Gymnastics/Trampoline, 1 Tennis)

      7 Employability Practitioners

      7 Games Developers

      7 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

       6 Acoustics Technicians

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Information Managers     

      6 School Business Professionals     

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      4 Conveyancing Technicians

      4 Counter Fraud Investigators

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Pensions Administrators

      3 Port Marine Operations Officers

      3 Senior Culinary Chefs

      3 Sports Development Officers   

      2 Arboriculturists      

      2 Auctioneers

      2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technicians

      2 Early Intervention Practitioners

      2 Fashion & Textiles Technicians

      2 Historic Site Advisers

      2 Music Recording Technicians

      2 Space Engineering Technicians

      2 Tax Technology Technicians

      2 Town Planning Assistants 

      2 VFX Artists

      2 Water Recycling Engineers

      1 Chaplain

      1 Chemical Process Technician

      1 Clinical Coder

      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 Market Research Executive

      1 Metrology Technician

      1 Payroll Assistant Manager

      1 Utilities Technician

      1 Wedding Accessories Designer

      1 Wedding Venue Co-ordinator

Going forward

I hope to continue posting weekly updates as frequently as possible.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 24/4/2022

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