Week 111: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England – latest insights

Latest reflections

The number of new vacancies this week was par for the course given the bank holiday and the time of year. Software Developers, Project Managers and Vehicle Damage Assessors were the busiest occupations and health professions continued to be quite prominent too. These come in a steady trickle rather than a torrent, but every week tends to bring a handful of new vacancies across a range of healthcare specialisms. Especially for any readers who missed my Week 110 update, a glance through the occupational data below gives a sense of how they’re increasingly permeating my listings.  

As I also mentioned last week, I often have to make judgements about which health and care vacancies meet my criteria as being appropriate for prospective or recent school/college leavers. The same happened this week with 20 new DAs for Social Workers in Norfolk to commence in 2023. I would love to have added them in but they clearly asked for a minimum of two years’ relevant experience, although I’ve certainly met a few students over the years who will have gone some way towards this at least in a voluntary and work experience capacity. Because of that I nominally counted it as one vacancy rather than ‘claiming’ all 20.     

Meanwhile I always find it interesting to observe regional patterns and to see where each week’s hotspots are. The towns and cities that punched well above their weight this week included Nottingham, Plymouth, Liverpool and St Albans. It was also good to see vacancies spread randomly around towns like Alnwick, Redcar, Scarborough, Ossett, Ormskirk, Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Grantham, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Lutterworth, Leamington Spa, Rushden, Southend, Chippenham, Weymouth, Taunton and Newton Abbot. But for my featured image on this occasion, I’ve chosen a photo I took of the River Ouse running into Lewes where East Sussex County Council posted six HA vacancies for Insurance Professionals.   

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, 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 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 period from 2nd to 8th May 2022 I recorded:

  • 56 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 93 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 111 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 8th May 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 12,544 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 11,479 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 24,023

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 111 weeks since lockdown: 113 DAs + 103 HAs = 216 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 possible economic turbulence ahead, I intend to keep my eye on the ball to see if things change.

Updated regional analysis

The 24,023 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (6,825)
  • Yorkshire (2,154)
  • West Midlands (1,331)
  • Greater Manchester (1,211)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (914)
  • Hampshire (807)
  • Berkshire (705)
  • Hertfordshire (627)
  • Surrey (548)
  • Nottinghamshire (467)
  • Tyne & Wear (462)
  • Cheshire (447)
  • Sussex (445)
  • Essex (406)
  • Cambridgeshire (399)
  • Lancashire (389)
  • Warwickshire (383)
  • Suffolk (379)
  • Merseyside (349)
  • Wiltshire (306)
  • County Durham (304)
  • Staffordshire (304)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (301)
  • Devon (300)
  • Leicestershire (279)
  • Bedfordshire (268)
  • Kent (267)
  • Derbyshire (258)
  • Oxfordshire (248)
  • Cumbria (247)
  • Norfolk (246)
  • Buckinghamshire (245)
  • Northamptonshire (242)
  • Dorset (235)
  • Worcestershire (167)
  • Lincolnshire (159)
  • Shropshire (99)
  • Cornwall (86)
  • Isle of Wight (41)
  • Northumberland (33)
  • Herefordshire (31)
  • Rutland (4)
  • Home working (24)
  • Not specified (81) 

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 the West Midlands and Yorkshire & Humber are the ‘best-performing’ regions outside London, but clearly London does outperform the rest of England by quite a wide margin.

  • 6,825   London (8,962,000: 7.62)
  • 3,306   South East (9,180,000: 3.60)
  • 2,643   North West (7,341,000: 3.60)
  • 2,325   East of England (6,236,000: 3.73)
  • 2,315   West Midlands (5,934,000: 3.90)
  • 2,154   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 3.91)
  • 2,142   South West (5,625,000: 3.81)
  • 1,409   East Midlands (4,836,000: 2.91)
  •    799   North East (2,670,000: 2.99)
  •    105   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 12,544 new vacancies spread across 98 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

2,720 Police Constables

1,124 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,004 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  667 Software Engineers

  582 Chartered Managers (general)

  556 Nurses (460 Adult, 75 Mental Health, 16 Learning Disability, 5 Child)

  459 Civil Engineers

  411 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  409 Project Managers

  383 Data Scientists/Analysts

  294 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  260 Design & Development Engineers

  260 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  248 Supply Chain Leaders

  210 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  186 Cyber Security Professionals

  186 Digital Marketing Professionals

  158 Manufacturing Engineers

  145 Financial Services Professionals

  132 Sales Professionals

  122 Professional Economists 

  119 Retail Leaders

  118 Building Services Design Engineers 

  114 Laboratory Scientists

  114 Solicitors

  113 Aerospace Engineers

    95 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    80 Environmental Practitioners

    72 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    68 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    67 Nuclear Engineers

   66 Healthcare Science Practitioners (10 Biomedical Science, 9 Neurophysiology, 8 Cardiovascular, 7 Biomedical Engineering, 6 Nuclear Medicine, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 5 Radiation/Radiotherapy Engineering, 5 Radiation Physics, 5 Respiratory / Sleep Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 1 Audiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

    60 Control Engineers

    48 Operating Department Practitioners 

    40 Internal Audit Professionals

    39 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 11 Therapeutic)

    38 Electromechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    34 Hospitality Managers

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    32 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers

    30 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    28 Town Planners

    27 Clinical Trials Specialists

    23 Business Analysts

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Chemical Engineers     

    22 Podiatrists

    20 Occupational Therapists

    20 Recruitment Professionals

    19 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    19 Transport Planners    

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    17 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Journalists

    17 Social Workers 

    16 Design & Construction Managers

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 Junior Traders (Financial Markets)     

    13 Building Control Surveyors

    13 Marketing Managers

    12 Architectural Assistants

    12 Public Health Practitioners

    11 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    10 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    10 Physiotherapists

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Chartered Rural Surveyors

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      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 TV Production Managers

      2 Buying & Procurement Professionals

      2 Education Technology Specialists

      2 Midwives

      2 Social Change Managers

      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 Speech Therapist

      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, Digital 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 11,479 new vacancies spread across 125 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,116 Sales Executives

  941 Software Developers 

  874 Data Analysts

  824 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  804 Project Management Associates

  347 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  323 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  315 Construction Site Supervisors

  308 Business Analysts  

  289 Nursing Associates

  275 Taxation Technicians

  272 Network Engineers

  242 Software Testers

  224 Retail Managers

  219 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  209 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  201 Cyber Security Technologists

  198 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  187 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  184 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  180 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  175 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  169 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  168 Government Policy Officers

  147 Technician Scientists

  133 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  127 Insurance Professionals  

  114 Marketing Executives

  100 DevOps Engineers

    96 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    82 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    72 Junior Management Consultants

    69 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    69 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    67 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    60 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    59 Mineral Products Technicians

    58 Healthcare Science Associates (16 Audiology / Hearing Aid Dispensers, 14 Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology, 13 Bio/Medical Engineering, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Mammography, 2 Medical Physics, 2 MRI Radiography, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Genetics Technology, 1 Tissue Retrieval)   

    58 Quality Practitioners

    56 Financial Advisers / Paraplanners   

    47 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (general)

    47 Nuclear Technicians

    43 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    37 Brewers 

    35 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    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

    24 Railway Engineering Technicians

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    20 Operations Managers   

    19 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    18 Housing/Property/Lettings Officers

    15 Intelligence Analysts

    14 Countryside Rangers

    14 Fibre Cable Engineers

    14 Police Community Support Officers

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 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 Emergency Medical Technicians 

      8 Paralegals

      8 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Employability Practitioners

      6 Acoustics Technicians

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Information Managers     

      6 School Business Professionals     

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 Football Coaches

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      4 Conveyancing Technicians

      4 Counter Fraud Investigators

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Gymnastics/Trampoline Coaches

      3 Pensions Administrators

      3 Port Marine Operations Officers

      3 Senior Culinary Chefs

      3 Sports Development Officers   

      3 Utilities Technicians

      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 Tennis Coach

      1 Wedding Accessories Designer

      1 Wedding Venue Co-ordinator

Going forward

All being well I will continue posting frequent updates, usually on Sunday nights.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 8/5/2022

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