Week 112: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England – lots of activity

Latest reflections

It’s been an eventful week, especially in the Midlands and the East. I recorded 416 new vacancies, much higher than average, and the most prolific counties were West Midlands (161) and Derbyshire (57) which was largely but not solely due to bulk DA vacancies for Police Officers with West Midlands Police and NDT Engineers with Rolls-Royce. There was a smattering of other activity across the wider West/East Midlands regions too.

Meanwhile the East benefitted from a variety of vacancies with The Environment Agency and this was one of several interesting developments from an occupational perspective. I’ve been noticing a few ‘emerging careers’ in recent months and the rise of DAs for Environmental Practitioners is a case in point. The total has now reached 117, including 17 Environmental Health Officers which I choose to list separately, and the roles tend to be spread across private sector as well as public sector employers. I’ve taken steps to check the precise number of new vacancies as the advertised figures can sometimes be misleading, but this week there were 20 new Environmental Practitioner vacancies in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Kent, alongside some HAs for Associate Project Managers and Data Analysts working on environmental projects in East Anglia.

Other ‘emerging careers’ have already been mentioned in my two most recent updates, but once again I’ve been noticing a fair amount of activity across a range of healthcare and healthcare science specialisms, alongside a few more Rural Surveyors, Social Change Managers and this week some DAs for Sport Development Officers which comes on the back of the ongoing rise in Sports Coach HAs (the latter mainly working in primary schools). Another speciality that rarely gets a mention is that of Mineral Products Technicians, which often throws up HA vacancies in far-flung places with a further 10 of them this week.  

If you take a look at my regional data below, I’ve made a few new observations in my commentary about the slightly changing patterns I’ve been noticing. I also see a lot of vacancies in towns and villages where you might not expect to find them, such as this week in Somerset (Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Cheddar and Binegar), Worcestershire (Evesham, Droitwich, Beckford and Hagley), Leicestershire (Earl Shilton, Church Langton and Glen Parva) and Cornwall (Chilsworthy). As for choosing this week’s featured image, it was something of a no-brainer and I’ve dipped into my collection of photos taken in the West Midlands.        


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 9th to 14th May 2022 I recorded:

  • 285 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 131 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 112 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 14th May 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 12,829 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 11,610 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 24,439

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 112 weeks since lockdown: 114 DAs + 104 HAs = 218 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 24,439 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (6,874)
  • Yorkshire (2,177)
  • West Midlands (1,492)
  • Greater Manchester (1,217)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (919)
  • Hampshire (810)
  • Berkshire (706)
  • Hertfordshire (636)
  • Surrey (550)
  • Nottinghamshire (472)
  • Tyne & Wear (462)
  • Cheshire (450)
  • Sussex (446)
  • Essex (419)
  • Cambridgeshire (412)
  • Lancashire (391)
  • Warwickshire (387)
  • Suffolk (386)
  • Merseyside (354)
  • Derbyshire (315)
  • County Durham (307)
  • Wiltshire (307)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (307)
  • Staffordshire (305)
  • Devon (304)
  • Leicestershire (282)
  • Kent (275)
  • Bedfordshire (274)
  • Norfolk (249)
  • Oxfordshire (248)
  • Cumbria (247)
  • Buckinghamshire (245)
  • Northamptonshire (243)
  • Dorset (235)
  • Worcestershire (171)
  • Lincolnshire (162)
  • Shropshire (101)
  • Cornwall (87)
  • Isle of Wight (41)
  • Northumberland (34)
  • 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 includes North Humberside and East Midlands includes South Humberside.)

To place this into sharper perspective, 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. Intriguingly, this currently shows that the West Midlands is the ‘best-performing’ region outside London, followed by Yorkshire, the South West and the East of England. London does outperform the rest of England by quite a wide margin, but it’s interesting to see that the South East and North West are now slightly lagging behind when viewed in the context of their population, while the East Midlands and North East are gradually picking up.

  • 6,874   London (8,962,000: 7.67)
  • 3,321   South East (9,180,000: 3.62)
  • 2,655   North West (7,341,000: 3.62)
  • 2,487   West Midlands (5,934,000: 4.19)
  • 2,376   East of England (6,236,000: 3.81)
  • 2,177   Yorkshire (5,503,000: 3.96)
  • 2,159   South West (5,625,000: 3.84)
  • 1,478   East Midlands (4,836,000: 3.06)
  •    807   North East (2,670,000: 3.02)
  •    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 12,829 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: 

2,870 Police Constables

1,133 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,007 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  670 Software Engineers/Developers

  585 Chartered Managers (general)

  557 Nurses (460 Adult, 76 Mental Health, 16 Learning Disability, 5 Child)

  464 Civil Engineers

  412 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  410 Project Managers

  384 Data Scientists/Analysts

  299 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  261 Design & Development Engineers

  261 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  248 Supply Chain Leaders

  212 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  189 Cyber Security Professionals

  187 Digital Marketing Professionals

  159 Manufacturing Engineers

  148 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

  100 Environmental Practitioners

    95 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    73 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    70 Healthcare Science Practitioners (10 Biomedical Science, 9 Neurophysiology, 8 Biomedical & Clinical Engineering, 8 Cardiovascular Physiology, 6 Nuclear Medicine, 6 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 6 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 5 Radiation Physics, 3 Bioinformatics, 1 Audiology, 1 Medical Physics, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

    68 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    67 Nuclear Engineers  

    60 Control Engineers

    60 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    50 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

    26 Podiatrists

    23 Business Analysts

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Chemical Engineers     

    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 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    10 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    10 Physiotherapists

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      6 Chartered Managers (Social Change)

      5 Operations Analysts

      4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

      4 Chartered Legal Executives   

      4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

      4 Fire Safety Engineers

      4 Geotechnical/Geospatial Engineers

      4 Sport Development Officers

      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 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 11,610 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: 

1,121 Sales Executives

  957 Software Developers 

  889 Data Analysts

  824 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  810 Project Management Associates

  352 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  325 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  319 Construction Site Supervisors

  316 Business Analysts  

  290 Nursing Associates

  276 Taxation Technicians

  274 Network Engineers

  247 Software Testers

  226 Retail Managers

  220 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  212 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  204 Cyber Security Technologists

  200 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  193 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  184 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  182 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  176 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  

  115 Marketing Executives

  100 DevOps Engineers

    97 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    82 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    74 Junior Management Consultants

    69 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    69 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    69 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    69 Mineral Products Technicians

    67 Healthcare Science Associates (16 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 14 Cardiorespiratory & Sleep Physiology, 13 Bio/Medical Engineering, 6 Genetics Technology, 6 Radiography, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Mammography, 2 Medical Physics, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Tissue Retrieval)  

    61 Quality Practitioners

    60 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    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 Dairy Technologists

    30 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    29 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    28 Journalists

    27 Internal Audit Practitioners

    26 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    25 Railway Engineering Technicians

    24 Automation & Control Engineers

    22 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    20 Operations Managers   

    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 Information Managers     

      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 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, 15/5/2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.