Week 121: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – with new enhanced regional data

Latest reflections

The normal pattern for July continued this week with a steady but not prolific spread of new vacancies across England.

However, perhaps the most notable development is that I’ve crunched some more numbers following publication of the first batch of data from the 2021 national census. This has enabled me to update and improve my regional comparisons and, although it hasn’t radically changed anything, I do think it adds an interesting new twist.   

My new data for Scotland is also coming on nicely, with 78 new vacancies now recorded since the start of last month and some interesting patterns already emerging. It’s a little too early to publish anything on this, but I aim to write occasional reports for Scotland in the near future and for Wales and Northern Ireland in due course.

And with the academic year coming to an end this week, I’ve picked out one of my favourite sunset photos from my own collection as my featured image.      


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. Studying one or more STEM subjects will also give applicants an advantage in terms of opening up a wider range of options, although there is plenty of life outside STEM too.

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 11th to 17th July 2022 I recorded:

  • 61 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 139 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 121 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 17th July 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 13,741 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 12,884 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 26,625

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 121 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, I intend to keep my eye on the ball to see if things change further.

Updated analysis by county and region

By county, the 26,625 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (7,313)
  • Yorkshire (2,303)
  • West Midlands (1,610)
  • Greater Manchester (1,323)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (996)
  • Hampshire (912)
  • Berkshire (780)
  • Hertfordshire (665)
  • Surrey (588)
  • Nottinghamshire (540)
  • Tyne & Wear (505)
  • Cheshire (497)
  • Derbyshire (489)
  • Sussex (485)
  • Cambridgeshire (451)
  • Essex (449)
  • Lancashire (441)
  • Warwickshire (438)
  • Suffolk (417)
  • Merseyside (366)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (366)
  • Staffordshire (347)
  • Devon (342)
  • County Durham (327)
  • Wiltshire (323)
  • Leicestershire (306)
  • Bedfordshire (299)
  • Kent (296)
  • Oxfordshire (289)
  • Buckinghamshire (279)
  • Dorset (275)
  • Norfolk (267)
  • Cumbria (260)
  • Northamptonshire (259)
  • Lincolnshire (190)
  • Worcestershire (179)
  • Shropshire (125)
  • Cornwall (100)
  • Isle of Wight (43)
  • Northumberland (37)
  • Herefordshire (31)
  • Rutland (7)
  • Home working (29)
  • Not specified (81) 

New improved regional data: The following list shows how those stats add up regionally. Alongside the total number of vacancies for each region in bold, the figure in brackets now shows the resident population of 15-24 year-olds using the very latest ONS data published in June 2022 and rounded to the nearest 100. Then the extra stat in bold indexes my apprenticeship figures against the 15-24 year-old population. Thus the ‘index’ shows the number of DAs and HAs since March 2020 per 1,000 of the 15-24 population for each region:

  •   7,313   London (1,078,600: 6.78)
  •   2,730   West Midlands (720,900: 3.79)
  •   2,421   South West (645,800: 3.75)
  •   2,548   East of England (685,300: 3.72)
  •   3,653   South East (1,040,500: 3.51)
  •   2,349   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 3.50)
  •   2,883   North West (884,600: 3.26)
  •   1,745   East Midlands (593,700: 2.94)
  •      873   North East (313,000: 2.79)
  •      110   Not specified / Home working
  • 26,625   Total England (6,633,200: 4.01)

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 13,741 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

1,231 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,068 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  699 Software Engineers/Developers

  689 Chartered Managers (general)

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

  532 Civil Engineers

  445 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  413 Project Managers

  409 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  325 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  275 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  271 Design & Development Engineers

  259 Supply Chain Leaders

  217 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  201 Digital Marketing Professionals

  196 Cyber Security Professionals

  173 Manufacturing Engineers

  160 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  149 Financial Services Professionals

  142 Sales Professionals

  132 Building Services Design Engineers 

  124 Professional Economists 

  123 Laboratory Scientists

  119 Retail Leaders

  117 Solicitors

  113 Aerospace Engineers

  109 Environmental Practitioners

  101 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    92 Healthcare Science Practitioners (12 Cardiac Physiology, 11 Biomedical Science, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 10 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 10 Neurophysiology, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 8 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 7 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 5 Audiology, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)

    75 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    75 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    72 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

    39 Town Planners

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    36 Clinical Trials Specialists

    36 Occupational Therapists

    33 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Podiatrists

    27 Business Analysts

    27 Social Workers 

    24 Packaging Professionals 

    22 Building Control Surveyors

    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 Project Control Professionals

    15 Architectural Assistants

    15 Professional Foresters

    15 Public Health Practitioners

    14 Geotechnical Engineers

    14 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    14 Marketing Managers

    13 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    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 Chartered Legal Executives   

      5 Fire Safety Engineers

      5 Operations Analysts

      4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

      4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

      4 Speech & Language Therapists

      3 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

      3 Buying & Procurement Professionals

      3 Digital Transformation Engineers

      3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

      3 TV Production Managers

      2 Career Development 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, IT 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 12,884 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: 

1,227 Sales Executives

1,050 Software Developers 

  957 Data Analysts

  905 Project Management Associates

  892 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  452 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  365 Construction Site Supervisors

  365 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  358 Nursing Associates

  351 Business Analysts  

  309 Network Engineers

  308 Taxation Technicians

  275 Software Testers

  245 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  234 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  231 Retail Assistant Managers

  218 Cyber Security Technologists

  210 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  209 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  193 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  188 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  184 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  175 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  170 Technician Scientists

  169 Government Policy Officers

  150 Insurance Professionals  

  145 Investment Operations Specialists

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  129 Marketing Executives

  120 DevOps Engineers

  106 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

    74 Human Resources Specialists     

    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 

    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     

    43 Actuarial Technicians

    42 Internal Audit Practitioners   

    39 Brewers 

    37 Intelligence Analysts

    36 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    35 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    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

    23 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    22 Operations Managers   

    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 Football Coaches

    10 Information Managers    

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      8 Acoustics Technicians

      8 Emergency Medical Technicians 

      8 Film/TV Post-Production Technical Operators

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Employability Practitioners

      6 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      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 Dental 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 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, 17/7/2022


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