Week 116: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England – analysis of 25,000 jobs in a changing landscape   

Latest reflections

One of the factors that sustains my interest in publishing these weekly reports is that the landscape never stops evolving. It’s been fascinating and sometimes surprising to discover what the most prolific occupations and regions are, and at the same time it’s intriguing to observe ‘new’ occupations emerging and to see occasional unexpected surges in jobs or locations that might otherwise fly under the radar.

This week was no exception with 339 new vacancies recorded. There was a big surge in Digital Technology Solutions DAs, especially in the emerging field of FinTech, while Civil Engineering and Chartered Management DAs were also prominent. In the HA stats Project Management Associates, Software Developers and School Sports Coaches led the way, with the emergence of Sports Coaches (mostly in the primary school sector) continuing to be a revelation, albeit almost always on a low starting salary.

Meanwhile, Greater London still appears to be a magnet compared to other regions, contributing 31% of this week’s vacancies and 28% across the 116-week period as a whole. In the context of the levelling-up debate, it’s a topic that I might re-visit and reflect on further in the weeks ahead. That said, there’s usually at least one occupation and location that punches well above its weight and this week it was Hospital Operating Department Practitioners and the county of Warwickshire, prompting me to dust off another of my Warwickshire photos as this week’s featured image. I took the photo at Hatton Locks on the way back from giving a school talk and the tower of St Mary’s Church in Warwick is just discernible in the distance. I mention this because the town of Warwick is quite a busy little hub in itself and frequently appears in my listings. The recent mini-surge in Planning and Rural Surveying continued this week too and notably the four new Town Planning vacancies were all with private sector firms.

With more than 25,000 vacancies in England now recorded in my data, I think it casts an increasingly useful light on what’s out there. And as I mentioned last time, I’ve started to keep an eye on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too with a view to creating some additional data in the near future covering all four countries.        


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 6th to 12th June 2022 I recorded:

  • 184 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 155 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 116 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 12th June 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 13,271 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 12,185 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 25,456

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 116 weeks since lockdown: 114 DAs + 105 HAs = 219 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 25,456 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (7,102)
  • Yorkshire (2,245)
  • West Midlands (1,533)
  • Greater Manchester (1,257)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (956)
  • Hampshire (857)
  • Berkshire (746)
  • Hertfordshire (649)
  • Surrey (577)
  • Nottinghamshire (507)
  • Tyne & Wear (493)
  • Sussex (470)
  • Cheshire (459)
  • Essex (431)
  • Lancashire (428)
  • Cambridgeshire (424)
  • Warwickshire (420)
  • Suffolk (411)
  • Merseyside (361)
  • Derbyshire (357)
  • Devon (333)
  • Staffordshire (324)
  • County Durham (323)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (315)
  • Wiltshire (314)
  • Leicestershire (296)
  • Kent (286)
  • Bedfordshire (281)
  • Buckinghamshire (267)
  • Oxfordshire (262)
  • Norfolk (261)
  • Cumbria (254)
  • Northamptonshire (250)
  • Dorset (243)
  • Worcestershire (174)
  • Lincolnshire (167)
  • Shropshire (109)
  • Cornwall (96)
  • Isle of Wight (42)
  • Northumberland (35)
  • Herefordshire (31)
  • Rutland (5)
  • 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.

  • 7,102   London (8,962,000: 7.92)
  • 3,507   South East (9,180,000: 3.82)
  • 2,755   North West (7,341,000: 3.75)
  • 2,591   West Midlands (5,934,000: 4.37)
  • 2,457   East of England (6,236,000: 3.94)
  • 2,257   South West (5,625,000: 4.01)
  • 2,245   Yorkshire (5,503,000: 4.08)
  • 1,582   East Midlands (4,836,000: 3.27)
  •    855   North East (2,670,000: 3.20)
  •    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 13,271 new vacancies spread across 102 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

2,870 Police Constables

1,214 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,038 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  684 Software Engineers/Developers

  628 Chartered Managers (general)

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

  510 Civil Engineers

  428 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  413 Project Managers

  402 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  322 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  269 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  268 Design & Development Engineers

  253 Supply Chain Leaders

  212 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  189 Cyber Security Professionals

  189 Digital Marketing Professionals

  169 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

  105 Environmental Practitioners

  100 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    80 Healthcare Science Practitioners (11 Biomedical Science, 10 Cardiovascular Physiology, 10 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 10 Neurophysiology, 8 Nuclear Medicine, 7 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 6 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 6 Radiation Physics, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 1 Audiology, 1 Medical Physics, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

    73 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    72 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    70 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    67 Nuclear Engineers  

    61 Control Engineers

    60 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    41 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    40 Hospitality Managers

    40 Internal Audit Professionals

    40 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 12 Therapeutic)

    39 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    33 Town Planners

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    32 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    28 Occupational Therapists

    28 Podiatrists

    27 Clinical Trials Specialists

    27 Social Workers 

    24 Business Analysts

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Chemical Engineers     

    21 Transport Planners    

    20 Recruitment Professionals

    19 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    18 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    17 Architectural Technologists

    17 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Journalists

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 Building Control Surveyors

    14 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    13 Architectural Assistants

    13 Marketing Managers

    13 Public Health Practitioners

    11 Physiotherapists

    10 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

      9 Project Control Professionals

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      6 Chartered Managers (Social Change)

      5 Operations Analysts

      5 Sport Development Officers

      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 GIS Analysts

      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 Community Centre 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, Automation Test Developer, Full Stack Developer, Digital Developer, Solutions Architect, Technology Architect, Technology Manager, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst, Agile Analyst, Application Support Analyst, Technical Support Analyst, Business Analyst, Global Mobility Analyst, Content Analyst, Security Operations Analyst, Process Mining Analyst, User Experience Researcher, Junior Product Manager, Infrastructure Specialist, FinTech Specialist, 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 grew even longer this week.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 12,185 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: 

1,164 Sales Executives

  999 Software Developers 

  918 Data Analysts

  878 Project Management Associates

  860 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  387 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  345 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  331 Construction Site Supervisors

  321 Business Analysts  

  310 Nursing Associates

  288 Taxation Technicians

  280 Network Engineers

  256 Software Testers

  233 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  229 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  229 Retail Assistant Managers

  208 Cyber Security Technologists

  204 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  201 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  188 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  183 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  180 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  174 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  168 Government Policy Officers

  165 Technician Scientists

  148 Insurance Professionals  

  133 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  122 Marketing Executives

  108 DevOps Engineers

    98 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    83 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    77 Junior Management Consultants

    77 Nuclear Technicians

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

    71 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    71 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    70 Mineral Products 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 Actuarial Technicians

    35 Intelligence Analysts

    35 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    34 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    31 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    31 Dairy Technologists

    30 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    28 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    28 Journalists

    27 Internal Audit Practitioners

    26 Automation & Control Engineers

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    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 Executives

      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, 12/6/2022

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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.