Week 125: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – steady but never dull

Latest reflections

Mid-August is always a relatively quiet period especially for DAs and my latest week’s data reflects this with a modest total of 141 new vacancies recorded in England.

There’s always something interesting to report though. For the second week running School Sports Coaches and Sales Executives were the most prominent occupations and the two of them have contributed almost 25% of all new postings in August. Next best this week were Cyber Security Technologists and there were also some Podiatrists, a Biomedical Scientist, an Audiologist, an Environmental Health Officer, a Geospatial Mapping Specialist, an Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officer and two more Regulatory Compliance Officers amongst many others. However, following last week’s prediction Data Analysts sadly didn’t quite hit the 1,000 mark and they now stand at 998, but their big moment is sure to happen this week.    

Once again Greater London was the busiest region and with East London generally showing quite well these days I’ve chosen one of my offbeat photos of the area as this week’s featured image. Meanwhile, my new Scottish data has continued to progress with 147 new degree-level vacancies now recorded and I’ll soon be posting an article on this to reflect on some interesting trends and patterns. Wales has started more slowly, but I’m tracking new vacancies there and in Northern Ireland too.  


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 daily from the government’s ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ website, whilst also keeping a close 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.

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 there’s something of a mismatch between supply and demand in terms of volume (there aren’t enough to go around), location (my regional breakdown raises questions about ‘levelling up’) and the range of occupations available (which probably doesn’t align too well with student aspirations).

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. It’s also true that a significant proportion of DA and HA opportunities will be snapped up by older applicants and therefore work-readiness really matters to enable 18/19-year-olds to compete.  

Headline data

During the latest period from 8th to 14th August 2022 I recorded:

  • 39 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 102 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 125 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 14th August 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 14,155 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 13,443 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 27,598

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 125 weeks since lockdown: 113 DAs + 108 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 the threat of a recession looming I intend to keep my eye on the ball to see if the picture changes again.

Updated analysis by county and region

By county, the 27,598 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (7,502)
  • Yorkshire (2,446)
  • West Midlands (1,649)
  • Greater Manchester (1,351)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,066)
  • Hampshire (952)
  • Berkshire (825)
  • Hertfordshire (693)
  • Surrey (606)
  • Nottinghamshire (566)
  • Tyne & Wear (527)
  • Sussex (516)
  • Cheshire (505)
  • Derbyshire (502)
  • Cambridgeshire (472)
  • Essex (460)
  • Lancashire (453)
  • Warwickshire (449)
  • Suffolk (424)
  • Merseyside (385)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (376)
  • Devon (363)
  • Staffordshire (354)
  • Wiltshire (334)
  • County Durham (330)
  • Kent (315)
  • Leicestershire (312)
  • Buckinghamshire (310)
  • Oxfordshire (304)
  • Bedfordshire (303)
  • Dorset (282)
  • Norfolk (273)
  • Northamptonshire (267)
  • Cumbria (262)
  • Worcestershire (196)
  • Lincolnshire (195)
  • Shropshire (137)
  • Cornwall (102)
  • Isle of Wight (43)
  • Northumberland (38)
  • Herefordshire (32)
  • Rutland (7)
  • Home working (33)
  • Not specified (81) 

Regional data: The table below shows how those stats add up regionally in the context of the local 15-24 year-old population. The population figures have been extracted from the very latest ONS census data published in June 2022 and my data provides the following information:

  • First number in bold = the latest cumulative number of vacancies for each region
  • Big number in brackets = the resident population of 15-24-year-olds in the region using the new ONS data and rounded to the nearest 100
  • Third figure in bold indexes my apprenticeship figures against the 15-24-year-old population. The ‘index’ shows the combined number of DAs and HAs since March 2020 per 1,000 of that population and the regions are then ‘ranked’ accordingly:
  •   7,502   London (1,078,600: 6.96)
  •   2,542   South West (645,800: 3.94)
  •   2,816   West Midlands (720,900: 3.91)
  •   2,625   East of England (685,300: 3.83)
  •   3,852   South East (1,040,500: 3.70)
  •   2,461   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 3.67)
  •   2,953   North West (884,600: 3.34)
  •   1,801   East Midlands (593,700: 3.03)
  •      932   North East (313,000: 2.98)
  •      114   Not specified / Home working
  • 27,598   Total England (6,633,200: 4.16)

Updated occupational analysis

Each week I update my occupational analysis by breaking down the new vacancies into what I loosely define as ‘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 14,155 new vacancies spread across 103 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

2,948 Police Constables

1,249 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,215 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  716 Chartered Managers (general)

  704 Software Engineers/Developers

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

  550 Civil Engineers

  461 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  415 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  409 Project Managers

  327 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  276 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  272 Design & Development Engineers

  261 Supply Chain Leaders

  222 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  210 Digital Marketing Professionals

  199 Cyber Security Professionals

  177 Manufacturing Engineers

  160 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  149 Financial Services Professionals

  149 Sales Professionals

  134 Building Services Design Engineers 

  126 Laboratory Scientists

  124 Professional Economists 

  120 Solicitors

  119 Retail Leaders

  113 Aerospace Engineers

  109 Environmental Practitioners

  104 Construction Managers

    95 Network Engineers

    94 Healthcare Science Practitioners (12 Biomedical Science, 12 Cardiac Physiology, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 10 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 10 Neurophysiology, 9 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 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

    67 Control Engineers

    60 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    46 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    43 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers

    42 Radiographers (28 Diagnostic, 14 Therapeutic)

    40 Hospitality Managers

    40 Internal Audit Professionals

    39 Town Planners

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    36 Clinical Trials Specialists

    36 Occupational Therapists

    35 Podiatrists

    34 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    32 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    28 Building Control Surveyors

    27 Business Analysts

    27 Social Workers 

    26 Chemical Engineers     

    25 Packaging Professionals 

    24 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    22 Environmental Health Officers

    22 Transport Planners    

    21 Project Control Professionals

    20 Human Resources Professionals  

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    17 Architectural Technologists

    17 Journalists

    15 Architectural Assistants

    15 Geotechnical Engineers

    15 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    15 Professional Foresters

    15 Public Health Practitioners

    14 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    14 Marketing Managers

    11 Insurance 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 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 Investment Banking Specialist

      1 Lighting Designer

      1 Marine Engineer

      1 Population Health Intelligence Analyst

      1 Prosthetist & Orthotist     

*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, Technical/Tech Consultant, Functional Consultant, Project Manager, Project Co-ordinator, Business Intelligence Specialist, Business Systems Engineer/Developer, Automation Developer, Automation Test Developer, Full Stack Developer, Digital Developer, Digital Solutions Architect, Technology Architect, Technology Manager, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst, Agile Analyst, Applications Support Analyst, Technical Support Analyst, Business Analyst, Global Mobility Analyst, Content Analyst, Security Operations Analyst, Process Mining Analyst, SAP 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, 2nd Line Support Technician, WordPress Developer, Technology Operations & Service Delivery Specialist, 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 13,443 new vacancies spread across 132 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,300 Sales Executives

1,066 Software Developers 

  998 Data Analysts

  980 Project Management Associates

  905 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  513 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  388 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  378 Construction Site Supervisors

  374 Nursing Associates

  367 Business Analysts  

  316 Network Engineers

  316 Taxation Technicians

  283 Software Testers

  255 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  245 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  235 Cyber Security Technologists

  232 Retail Assistant Managers

  217 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  216 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  193 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  192 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  185 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  175 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  175 Technician Scientists

  170 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  155 Insurance Practitioners  

  146 Investment Operations Specialists

  135 Marketing Executives

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  123 DevOps Engineers

  116 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  108 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    84 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    81 Healthcare Science Associates (22 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 15 Cardiorespiratory & Sleep Physiology, 14 Bio/Medical Engineering Technicians, 8 MRI Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 4 Mammography, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Medical Physics, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Tissue Retrieval)  

    80 Junior Management Consultants

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    77 Human Resources Specialists     

    77 Nuclear Technicians     

    73 Mineral Products Technicians 

    72 Quality Practitioners

    70 Recruitment Resourcers/Consultants

    61 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    47 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (general/unspecified)

    47 Hospitality Managers

    47 Internal Audit Practitioners

    45 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    44 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    43 Actuarial Technicians

    39 Brewers 

    39 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners    

    38 Intelligence Analysts

    35 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    34 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    32 Automation & Control Engineers

    32 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    31 Dairy Technologists

    31 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    31 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    28 Journalists

    28 Railway Engineering Technicians

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    23 Operations Managers   

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    21 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    15 Market Research Executives

    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 Digital Community Managers

    11 Hygiene Specialists

    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 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      7 Employability Practitioners

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 School Business Professionals     

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 BEMS Control Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      5 Visual Merchandisers

      4 Aircraft Certifying Technicians

      4 Gymnastics/Trampoline Coaches / Rebound Therapists

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officers

      3 Applications Support Leads

      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 Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician

      1 Customs & Foreign Exchange Expert

      1 Digital Accessibility Specialist

      1 Fitness Club Manager

      1 Fitness Instructor

      1 Health Informatics Specialist

      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 during the summer, usually on Sunday nights.

As from 1st June I have also started to track Degree and Higher Apprenticeships in Wales and Northern Ireland and Level 6/7 apprenticeships in Scotland. I’ve always been very conscious that my blog only covers England and I intend to redress this with occasional reports starting soon.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 15/8/2022


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