Week 118: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship cumulative vacancies – lots to report

Latest reflections

This week’s healthy crop of 311 new vacancies included 130 in the East Midlands, many of them with Rolls-Royce’s Defence Submarines business in Derby. Elsewhere, Shropshire was also notable for punching above its weight and as ever an intriguing range of occupations and locations featured, not least a Project Management Associate HA at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Even tiny Rutland got in on the act, as did Camborne in Cornwall and Isle of Grain in Kent, and there was some interesting activity around the northern coastal fringes in areas such as Teesside, the Fylde Peninsula and West Cumbria.

With my database passing the 26,000 mark this week, I’m increasingly struck by the growth in occupations that are perhaps not frequently talked about. Amongst numerous others the Nuclear sector has been very prominent in recent weeks, while there’s also been a steady stream of Construction Site Supervisor vacancies and the total of Regulatory Compliance Practitioners has now reached 100. This week also saw another ‘new entrant’ with four HAs for Aircraft Certifying Technicians with a company located at Birmingham Airport.

The steady growth in health sector DA has continued too and this week saw eight Clinical Trial Specialists in Farnborough (Hants), along with three Occupational Therapists, a Podiatrist, an Audiologist, a Speech & Language Therapist, a Mental Health Nurse and an Adult Nurse.    

My data currently spans 228 different DA and HA ‘occupations’, not to mention 25 sub-divisions of what I loosely call Healthcare Science and a whopping 75 different varieties of Digital Technology Solutions. In conversations I’ve had with colleagues in the past few days, it has got me wondering if it’s almost time to create a new vocabulary or dictionary of careers.  

My new data on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is also taking shape. In particular I aim to provide a brief report on Scotland in the near future, as I’m already starting to see some patterns emerging there.

But after a prolific haul of 114 new vacancies, Derbyshire had to be the theme of my featured image this week with thanks to Linda Biggs on Pixabay.          


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 20th to 26th June 2022 I recorded:

  • 176 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 135 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 118 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 26th June 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 13,538 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 12,473 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 26,011

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 118 weeks since lockdown: 115 DAs + 106 HAs = 221 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 26,011 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (7,187)
  • Yorkshire (2,279)
  • West Midlands (1,565)
  • Greater Manchester (1,279)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (965)
  • Hampshire (878)
  • Berkshire (762)
  • Hertfordshire (652)
  • Surrey (585)
  • Nottinghamshire (521)
  • Tyne & Wear (499)
  • Cheshire (476)
  • Sussex (474)
  • Derbyshire (472)
  • Cambridgeshire (438)
  • Essex (438)
  • Lancashire (436)
  • Warwickshire (428)
  • Suffolk (416)
  • Merseyside (364)
  • Devon (338)
  • Staffordshire (327)
  • County Durham (325)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (318)
  • Wiltshire (317)
  • Leicestershire (299)
  • Bedfordshire (292)
  • Kent (290)
  • Buckinghamshire (272)
  • Oxfordshire (271)
  • Dorset (271)
  • Norfolk (265)
  • Cumbria (259)
  • Northamptonshire (255)
  • Lincolnshire (179)
  • Worcestershire (178)
  • Shropshire (123)
  • Cornwall (97)
  • Isle of Wight (43)
  • Northumberland (35)
  • Herefordshire (31)
  • Rutland (7)
  • 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 I think it’s interesting to view the bigger picture too.

  • 7,187   London (8,962,000: 8.02)
  • 3,575   South East (9,180,000: 3.89)
  • 2,810   North West (7,341,000: 3.83)
  • 2,652   West Midlands (5,934,000: 4.47)
  • 2,501   East of England (6,236,000: 4.01)
  • 2,306   South West (5,625,000: 4.10)
  • 2,279   Yorkshire (5,503,000: 4.14)
  • 1,733   East Midlands (4,836,000: 3.58)
  •    863   North East (2,670,000: 3.23)
  •    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 13,538 new vacancies spread across 101 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

2,870 Police Constables

1,223 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,062 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  693 Software Engineers/Developers

  659 Chartered Managers (general)

  560 Nurses (462 Adult, 77 Mental Health, 16 Learning Disability, 5 Child)

  524 Civil Engineers

  430 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  417 Project Managers

  404 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  324 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  270 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  268 Design & Development Engineers

  256 Supply Chain Leaders

  215 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  193 Digital Marketing Professionals

  192 Cyber Security Professionals

  169 Manufacturing Engineers

  150 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  149 Financial Services Professionals

  139 Sales Professionals

  126 Building Services Design Engineers 

  124 Professional Economists 

  122 Laboratory Scientists

  119 Retail Leaders

  116 Solicitors

  113 Aerospace Engineers

  108 Environmental Practitioners

  100 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    83 Healthcare Science Practitioners (11 Biomedical Science, 11 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 Audiology, 3 Bioinformatics, 1 Medical Physics, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

    74 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    74 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    70 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    62 Control Engineers

    60 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    46 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)        

    37 Town Planners

    35 Clinical Trials Specialists

    33 Occupational Therapists

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    32 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Podiatrists

    27 Social Workers 

    24 Business Analysts

    23 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Chemical Engineers     

    22 Transport Planners    

    20 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    18 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    18 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Architectural Technologists

    17 Journalists

    15 Building Control Surveyors

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 Architectural Assistants

    14 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    13 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    13 Marketing Managers

    13 Public Health Practitioners

    11 Physiotherapists

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      9 Geotechnical Engineers

      9 Project Control Professionals

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      5 Fire Safety Engineers

      5 Operations Analysts

      5 Sport Development Officers

      4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

      4 Chartered Legal Executives   

      4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

      3 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

      3 Digital Transformation Engineers

      3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

      3 Speech & Language Therapists

      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 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, Service Desk 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 growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 12,473 new vacancies spread across 127 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,198 Sales Executives

1,024 Software Developers 

  930 Data Analysts

  885 Project Management Associates

  871 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  405 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  354 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  351 Construction Site Supervisors

  333 Nursing Associates

  327 Business Analysts  

  296 Taxation Technicians

  290 Network Engineers

  264 Software Testers

  240 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  232 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  230 Retail Assistant Managers

  210 Cyber Security Technologists

  208 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  206 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  188 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  187 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  184 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  174 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  169 Technician Scientists

  168 Government Policy Officers

  150 Insurance Professionals  

  133 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  127 Marketing Executives

  112 DevOps Engineers

  100 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    86 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    77 Junior Management Consultants

    77 Nuclear Technicians

    75 Construction Design & Build 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)  

      73 Mineral Products Technicians 

    72 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    65 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    63 Quality Practitioners

    59 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    47 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (general)

    44 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    44 Hospitality Managers

    39 Brewers 

    39 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    37 Intelligence Analysts

    36 Actuarial Technicians

    34 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    34 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    31 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    31 Dairy Technologists

    30 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    29 Internal Audit Practitioners

    28 Journalists

    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   

    11 Hygiene Specialists

    10 Digital Community Managers

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      8 Acoustics Technicians

      8 Emergency Medical Technicians 

      8 Information Managers     

      8 Paralegals

      8 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

      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 Aircraft Certifying Technicians

      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 Space Engineering Technicians

      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 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 and Higher 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 intend to redress this in the very near future.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 26/6/2022


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