Week 120: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – hybrid and home-working are here to stay

Latest reflections

As is the norm for July this was a steady rather than prolific week, but it gives me an opportunity to report on two broader developments.

The first is that I’ve been noticing a gradual rise in vacancies that mention hybrid or home working. In a lot of these cases the employer is still located in a specific place and there’s an expectation for the apprentice to visit that location, whether it be two or three days per week or two or three days per year. In these cases I still count the vacancy as being based in that location for statistical purposes. However, I’ve also noted a total of 24 apprenticeships so far where in effect there is no head office and you could literally live anywhere.

In this context there was a notable example this week of a new User Experience (UX) DA vacancy with a web consultancy business based in Manchester (hence this week’s featured image from my photo collection). In the job spec it says:

“This is a fully remote role, working in a fully remote delivery team. However, travelling to Manchester will be required for meet ups and social events.”

I’m sure that we’ll see a growth in opportunities of this kind and I’ll be keeping a lookout for them.

The other development is that some elements of the new national census have just been published and I’ve changed and updated my regional data in response, as you can see below.

Meanwhile my new data on Scotland is also coming on especially well, with 75 new vacancies now recorded and some interesting patterns already emerging. I aim to write occasional reports for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in due course.  

Finally I was intrigued to see an HA this week for a Trampoline Coach and Rebound Therapist, which is the first time I’ve come across the latter.


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 4th to 10th July 2022 I recorded:

  • 53 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 112 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 120 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 10th July 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 13,680 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 12,745 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 26,425

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 120 weeks since lockdown: 114 DAs + 106 HAs = 220 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 analysis by county and region

By county, the 26,425 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (7,258)
  • Yorkshire (2,292)
  • West Midlands (1,594)
  • Greater Manchester (1,312)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (986)
  • Hampshire (905)
  • Berkshire (775)
  • Hertfordshire (662)
  • Surrey (586)
  • Nottinghamshire (531)
  • Tyne & Wear (504)
  • Cheshire (495)
  • Derbyshire (486)
  • Sussex (482)
  • Cambridgeshire (446)
  • Essex (445)
  • Lancashire (441)
  • Warwickshire (435)
  • Suffolk (416)
  • Merseyside (366)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (366)
  • Devon (340)
  • Staffordshire (338)
  • County Durham (327)
  • Wiltshire (321)
  • Leicestershire (303)
  • Bedfordshire (295)
  • Kent (294)
  • Oxfordshire (286)
  • Dorset (275)
  • Buckinghamshire (273)
  • Norfolk (266)
  • Cumbria (260)
  • Northamptonshire (258)
  • Lincolnshire (181)
  • Worcestershire (179)
  • Shropshire (124)
  • Cornwall (100)
  • Isle of Wight (43)
  • Northumberland (36)
  • Herefordshire (31)
  • Rutland (7)
  • Home working (24)
  • Not specified (81) 

NEW DATA!! The following list shows how those stats add up regionally.  In brackets I’ve included the total adult population of each region, now using the very latest ONS data which was published a couple of weeks ago (late-June 2022) and rounded to the nearest 100. This gives a better sense of proportion to my regional apprenticeship figures. For example, in population terms the North East is the smallest region, so comparatively speaking their apprenticeship numbers are not quite as low as they might appear.

My data is also slightly different from official figures because I count the South Humberside area (which is in Lincolnshire) as being part of the East Midlands and correspondingly I count Yorkshire as a region rather than the official region of ‘Yorkshire & Humber’. My revised regional population totals have been adjusted to take account of this.   

To place my regional comparisons into sharper perspective, I’ve also added an extra stat in bold which now indexes the apprenticeship figures against the total adult population of each region. In effect, the index equals the number of DAs and HAs post-lockdown per 10,000 of the adult population. Clearly London still outperforms the rest of England by quite a wide margin, but I think it’s interesting to view the bigger picture too, especially after my new census adjustments. When time permits, I hope to crunch some more numbers to drill my regional population data down even further to just the 18-24 age group. The latest updated and revised data is as follows:

  • 7,258   London (6,050,800: 12.00)
  • 3,625   South East (5,630,800: 6.44)
  • 2,870   North West (4,572,900: 6.28)
  • 2,701   West Midlands (3,678,300: 7.34)
  • 2,530   East of England (3,799,900: 6.66)
  • 2,407   South West (3,394,600: 7.09)
  • 2,292   Yorkshire (3,224,900: 7.11)
  • 1,766   East Midlands (3,215,800: 5.50)
  •    871   North East (1,665,700: 5.23)
  •    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 13,680 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

1,227 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,068 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  698 Software Engineers/Developers

  681 Chartered Managers (general)

  582 Nurses (472 Adult, 86 Mental Health, 19 Learning Disability, 5 Child)

  531 Civil Engineers

  442 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  413 Project Managers

  407 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  324 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  274 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  268 Design & Development Engineers

  259 Supply Chain Leaders

  217 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  198 Digital Marketing Professionals

  196 Cyber Security Professionals

  169 Manufacturing Engineers

  160 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  149 Financial Services Professionals

  140 Sales Professionals

  131 Building Services Design Engineers 

  124 Professional Economists 

  123 Laboratory Scientists

  119 Retail Leaders

  117 Solicitors

  113 Aerospace Engineers

  108 Environmental Practitioners

  100 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

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

    75 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    74 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    71 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

    36 Occupational Therapists

    35 Clinical Trials Specialists

    33 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Podiatrists

    27 Social Workers 

    24 Business Analysts

    24 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Chemical Engineers     

    22 Transport Planners    

    20 Human Resources / People Professionals  

    19 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    18 Environmental Health Officers

    17 Architectural Technologists

    17 Journalists

    16 Building Control Surveyors

    15 Architectural Assistants

    15 Professional Foresters

    15 Project Control Professionals

    14 Geotechnical Engineers

    14 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    14 Public Health Practitioners

    13 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    13 Marketing Managers

    11 Physiotherapists

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      6 Sport Development Officers

      5 Fire Safety Engineers

      5 Operations Analysts

      4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

      4 Chartered Legal Executives   

      4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

      3 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

      3 Buying & Procurement Professionals

      3 Digital Transformation Engineers

      3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

      3 Speech & Language Therapists

      3 TV Production Managers

      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, Support Desk Analyst, IT Support Analyst, IT Service Desk Analyst, IT Technician, Computing Technician, 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 12,745 new vacancies spread across 128 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,215 Sales Executives

1,044 Software Developers 

  951 Data Analysts

  895 Project Management Associates

  880 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  425 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  364 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  361 Construction Site Supervisors

  358 Nursing Associates

  339 Business Analysts  

  308 Network Engineers

  308 Taxation Technicians

  268 Software Testers

  243 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  233 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  231 Retail Assistant Managers

  217 Cyber Security Technologists

  210 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  207 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  190 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  188 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  184 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  175 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  169 Government Policy Officers

  169 Technician Scientists

  150 Insurance Professionals  

  136 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  129 Marketing Executives

  114 DevOps Engineers

  103 Regulatory Compliance Officers

    87 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    81 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    78 Junior Management Consultants

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    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)  

    73 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

    73 Mineral Products Technicians 

    69 Quality Practitioners

    66 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    59 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    47 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (general)

    45 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    44 Hospitality Managers

    44 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    41 Internal Audit Practitioners   

    39 Actuarial Technicians

    39 Brewers 

    37 Intelligence Analysts

    35 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    35 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    32 Automation & Control Engineers

    31 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    31 Dairy Technologists

    30 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    28 Journalists

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    25 Railway Engineering Technicians

    22 Operations Managers   

    22 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    21 Housing/Property/Lettings 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   

    12 Paralegals

    11 Hygiene Specialists

    10 Digital Community Managers

    10 Information Managers    

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      8 Acoustics Technicians

      8 Emergency Medical Technicians 

      8 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Employability Practitioners

      6 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Football Coaches

      6 School Business Professionals     

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 Market Research Executives

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      4 Aircraft Certifying Technicians

      4 Gymnastics/Trampoline Coaches / Rebound Therapists

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Fashion & Textiles Technologists

      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 Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician

      1 Customs & Foreign Exchange Expert

      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 near future.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 10/7/2022

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