Week 126: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – a week of intrigue!

Latest reflections

As I said last week, Mid-August usually tends to be very quiet especially for DAs. Sure enough, even though I’m now tracking new vacancies across all four home countries, by Wednesday night I’d recorded just 10 new Level 6/7 apprenticeships and barely 30 at Level 4/5 in the whole of the United Kingdom.  

Then on Thursday it all changed with the posting of 40 new Police Constable DAs by South Yorkshire Police (supplementing the 78 in West Yorkshire last month) and 150 new NHS Reablement Assistant Practitioner HAs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Whilst none of these vacancies are targeted directly at school or college-leavers, they nonetheless meet the criteria I use for inclusion in my data as being within the reach of work-ready and suitably-motivated 18/19-year-olds.

Yorkshire rarely surprises me these days as it’s always a reasonably fertile area for post-18 apprenticeships. However, Cornwall was almost dormant until a few months ago and it’s only more recently that it has started to show up on the radar. The NHS vacancies are particularly intriguing, offering applicants an opportunity to support people in their own communities. Then on Friday a batch of Software Developer DAs with Fujitsu also turned up in Solihull and Manchester, to finally turn an initially dire week into a very interesting one.    

The week was also especially notable for NOT being London-centric. Only 2.5% of the week’s new vacancies were located within the bounds of the M25, which is absolutely unheard of, and the overall London and South East aggregate was a mere 5.5% of the total. It would be nice to think that this really is levelling-up in action, but it’s probably just a blip. That said, the South West as a whole has been making substantial inroads recently while Yorkshire & Humber has also now edged ahead of the South East in my regional ‘rankings’. The West Midlands and East of England outperform the South East too, albeit that these things are fairly marginal and my data a little on the crude side.   

Another Week 126 highlight was the first Padel Coach HA I’ve ever seen. I pride myself in my sporting knowledge, but until this week I was completely unaware of Padel let alone that it’s the world’s fastest growing sport. For the uninitiated, it’s a kind of cross between tennis and squash. There was another Anti-Social Behaviour Officer HA too, a sign of the times perhaps.

Whilst I’m now monitoring new vacancies across the UK as a whole, Scotland had a quiet week on this occasion. However, Wales began to stir a little and I’ll be publishing a report on both in the near future. Meanwhile, my choice of featured image was something of a no-brainer, thanks to Tim Hill on Pixabay and his photo of Godrevy Lighthouse off the Cornish coast.


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 including NHS Jobs, Not Going to Uni and Rate My Apprenticeship.

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 15th to 21st August 2022 I recorded:

  • 73 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 201 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 126 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 21st August 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 14,228 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 13,644 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 27,872

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 126 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 major recession looming I will be keeping my eye very firmly on the ball in the coming weeks to see if the picture changes again.

Updated analysis by county and region

By county, the 27,872 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (7,509)
  • Yorkshire (2,490)
  • West Midlands (1,661)
  • Greater Manchester (1,360)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,070)
  • Hampshire (952)
  • Berkshire (826)
  • Hertfordshire (693)
  • Surrey (607)
  • Nottinghamshire (569)
  • Tyne & Wear (529)
  • Sussex (519)
  • Cheshire (507)
  • Derbyshire (507)
  • Cambridgeshire (473)
  • Essex (462)
  • Lancashire (455)
  • Warwickshire (451)
  • Suffolk (427)
  • Merseyside (386)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (377)
  • Devon (364)
  • Staffordshire (354)
  • Wiltshire (335)
  • County Durham (331)
  • Kent (315)
  • Leicestershire (313)
  • Buckinghamshire (312)
  • Oxfordshire (305)
  • Bedfordshire (305)
  • Dorset (282)
  • Norfolk (277)
  • Northamptonshire (268)
  • Cumbria (262)
  • Cornwall (253)
  • Worcestershire (198)
  • Lincolnshire (196)
  • Shropshire (137)
  • Isle of Wight (43)
  • Northumberland (38)
  • Herefordshire (33)
  • Rutland (7)
  • Home working with no central base (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:
  •   7,509   London (1,078,600: 6.96)
  •   2,700   South West (645,800: 4.18)
  •   2,833   West Midlands (720,900: 3.93)
  •   2,637   East of England (685,300: 3.85)
  •   2,505   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 3.73)
  •   3,860   South East (1,040,500: 3.71)
  •   2,967   North West (884,600: 3.35)
  •   1,812   East Midlands (593,700: 3.05)
  •      935   North East (313,000: 2.99)
  •      114   Not specified / Home working
  • 27,872   Total England (6,633,200: 4.20)

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 14,228 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: 

2,988 Police Constables

1,254 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,217 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

  722 Software Engineers/Developers

  716 Chartered Managers (general)

  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

  329 Chartered Building/Property/Land Surveyors  

  276 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  272 Design & Development Engineers

  261 Supply Chain Leaders

  222 Food Technology/Production/Manufacturing Professionals

  212 Digital Marketing Professionals

  199 Cyber Security Professionals

  178 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

    96 Healthcare Science Practitioners (13 Cardiac Physiology, 12 Biomedical Science, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 10 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 10 Neurophysiology, 9 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 7 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 6 Audiology, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)   

    95 Network Engineers

    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

    47 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, Microsoft 365 Product 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 13,644 new vacancies spread across 134 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,306 Sales Executives

1,067 Software Developers 

1,005 Data Analysts

  981 Project Management Associates

  909 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  517 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  389 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  379 Construction Site Supervisors

  374 Nursing Associates

  368 Business Analysts  

  318 Taxation Technicians

  316 Network Engineers

  284 Software Testers

  258 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  246 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  235 Cyber Security Technologists

  232 Retail Assistant Managers

  220 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  217 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  193 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  192 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  185 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  176 Technician Scientists

  175 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  170 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  155 Insurance Practitioners  

  150 Reablement Associate Practitioners (NHS)

  147 Investment Operations Specialists

  136 Marketing Executives

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  123 DevOps Engineers

  117 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  111 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 

    73 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

    40 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    39 Brewers 

    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

    17 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 Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officers

      4 Gymnastics/Trampoline Coaches / Rebound Therapists

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Applications Support Leads

      3 Dental Technicians

      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 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 Padel Coach

      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 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, 21/8/2022


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