Week 115: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England – East Anglia steals the show  

Latest reflections

Although there were only three working days in Week 115, I still recorded 135 new vacancies. And intriguingly Ipswich and Norwich contributed about 20% of them, thanks especially to Willis and Flagship Housing Group respectively. Global insurers Willis in particular have been a prominent and frequent apprenticeship provider in recent years and on this occasion posted 19 vacancies for Insurance Practitioner HAs.

My featured image, albeit a bit quirky, does have some relevance to this as it depicts a very short train en route to Ipswich. I captured it during one of my work-related forays into that part of the country.

It’s also interesting to note that, from a regional perspective, my data shows that the East of England actually outperforms the South East when population density is factored in. Is this surprising? I’m not sure.    

For the future I’m looking at adding some insights into how things shape up in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as noted at the end of this week’s post.       


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 30th May to 5th June 2022 I recorded:

  • 62 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 73 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 115 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 5th June 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 13,087 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 12,030 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 25,117

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 115 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 economic turbulence ahead, I intend to keep my eye on the ball to see if things change.

Updated regional analysis

The 25,117 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (6,996)
  • Yorkshire (2,233)
  • West Midlands (1,516)
  • Greater Manchester (1,243)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (938)
  • Hampshire (850)
  • Berkshire (725)
  • Hertfordshire (642)
  • Surrey (573)
  • Nottinghamshire (492)
  • Tyne & Wear (488)
  • Sussex (467)
  • Cheshire (454)
  • Essex (428)
  • Cambridgeshire (421)
  • Lancashire (411)
  • Suffolk (410)
  • Warwickshire (395)
  • Merseyside (357)
  • Derbyshire (352)
  • Devon (329)
  • County Durham (318)
  • Staffordshire (316)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (314)
  • Wiltshire (313)
  • Leicestershire (292)
  • Kent (284)
  • Bedfordshire (278)
  • Buckinghamshire (264)
  • Norfolk (260)
  • Oxfordshire (258)
  • Cumbria (248)
  • Northamptonshire (248)
  • Dorset (242)
  • Worcestershire (174)
  • Lincolnshire (167)
  • Shropshire (109)
  • Cornwall (96)
  • Isle of Wight (42)
  • 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. Clearly London outperforms the rest of England by quite a wide margin, but it’s interesting to see that the West Midlands is the ‘best-performing’ region outside the capital when viewed in the context of its population, followed by Yorkshire, the South West and the East. In recent weeks the East Midlands and North East have been gradually catching up too.

  • 6,996   London (8,962,000: 7.81)
  • 3,463   South East (9,180,000: 3.77)
  • 2,709   North West (7,341,000: 3.69)
  • 2,541   West Midlands (5,934,000: 4.28)
  • 2,439   East of England (6,236,000: 3.91)
  • 2,233   Yorkshire (5,503,000: 4.06)
  • 2,232   South West (5,625,000: 3.97)
  • 1,555   East Midlands (4,836,000: 3.22)
  •    844   North East (2,670,000: 3.16)
  •    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 13,087 new vacancies spread across 102 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

2,870 Police Constables

1,155 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,030 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  678 Software Engineers/Developers

  612 Chartered Managers (general)

  558 Nurses (461 Adult, 76 Mental Health, 16 Learning Disability, 5 Child)

  493 Civil Engineers

  424 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  412 Project Managers

  397 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  321 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  267 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  266 Design & Development Engineers

  253 Supply Chain Leaders

  212 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  189 Cyber Security Professionals

  189 Digital Marketing Professionals

  166 Manufacturing Engineers

  148 Financial Services Professionals

  138 Sales Professionals

  124 Professional Economists 

  121 Building Services Design Engineers 

  119 Laboratory Scientists

  119 Retail Leaders

  114 Solicitors

  113 Aerospace Engineers

  101 Environmental Practitioners

  100 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    75 Healthcare Science Practitioners (10 Biomedical Science, 10 Cardiovascular Physiology, 10 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 9 Neurophysiology, 7 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)

    73 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    70 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    67 Nuclear Engineers  

    61 Control Engineers

    60 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    52 Operating Department Practitioners 

    40 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    40 Hospitality Managers

    40 Internal Audit Professionals

    40 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 12 Therapeutic)

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    36 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    31 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    29 Town Planners

    28 Occupational Therapists

    27 Clinical Trials Specialists

    27 Podiatrists

    23 Business Analysts

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Chemical Engineers     

    21 Transport Planners    

    20 Recruitment Professionals

    19 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    17 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Journalists

    17 Social Workers 

    16 Design & Construction Managers

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 Building Control Surveyors

    14 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    13 Architectural Assistants

    13 Marketing Managers

    12 Public Health Practitioners

    11 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    11 Physiotherapists

    10 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Project Control Professionals

      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 GIS Analysts

      3 TV Production Managers

      2 Buying & Procurement Professionals

      2 Education Technology Specialists

      2 Midwives

      2 Pensions Professionals

      2 Systems Engineers

      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!

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 12,030 new vacancies spread across 126 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,151 Sales Executives

  981 Software Developers 

  909 Data Analysts

  858 Project Management Associates

  848 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  369 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  336 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  330 Construction Site Supervisors

  321 Business Analysts  

  309 Nursing Associates

  284 Taxation Technicians

  278 Network Engineers

  254 Software Testers

  229 Retail Assistant Managers

  226 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  225 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  205 Cyber Security Technologists

  201 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  200 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  188 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  182 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  177 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  172 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  168 Government Policy Officers

  161 Technician Scientists

  147 Insurance Professionals  

  133 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  120 Marketing Executives

  102 DevOps Engineers

    98 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    83 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    77 Junior Management Consultants

    77 Nuclear Technicians

    71 Healthcare Science Associates (18 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 14 Cardiorespiratory & Sleep Physiology, 13 Bio/Medical Engineering, 8 MRI Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Mammography, 2 Medical Physics, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Tissue Retrieval)  

    70 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    70 Mineral Products Technicians 

    69 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    69 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    63 Quality Practitioners

    60 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    57 Financial Paraplanners   

    47 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (general)

    44 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    44 Hospitality Managers

    37 Brewers 

    35 Intelligence Analysts

    35 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    34 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    33 Actuarial Technicians

    31 Dairy Technologists

    30 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    30 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    28 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    28 Journalists

    27 Internal Audit Practitioners

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    25 Automation & Control Engineers

    25 Railway Engineering Technicians

    22 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    21 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    20 Operations Managers   

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    14 Countryside Rangers

    14 Fibre Cable Engineers

    14 Police Community Support Officers

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 Land Referencers      

    12 Logistics Specialists   

    10 Digital Community Managers

    10 Hygiene Specialists

      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 Acoustics Technicians

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Employability Practitioners

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Football Coaches

      6 School Business Professionals     

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 Counter Fraud Investigators

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      4 Conveyancing Technicians

      4 Market Research Executive

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Fashion & Textiles Technologists

      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 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 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.

As from 1st June I have also started to track Degree Apprenticeships in Wales and Northern Ireland and their equivalent in Scotland (Graduate Apprenticeships). I’ve always been very conscious that my blog only covers England and I hope to redress this if I can successfully build up enough useful data.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 5/6/2022

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