Week 138: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – it’s been a very busy November so far

Latest reflections in England

After taking a break from my blog last weekend, this report covers a two-week period during which I’ve recorded almost 700 new vacancies. November tends to be the peak month for bigger providers launching their annual school and college-leaver programmes, hence a decent haul was always on the cards.

This is also the time of year when it can be difficult to find out the exact number of vacancies that the larger employers are offering across different sites, and I suspect that in some cases they themselves won’t even have a firmly-fixed target. However, I’ve been doing a fair amount of analysis and detective work in this respect and for some I’ve tracked down precise numbers, whilst for others I’ve made a very conservative estimate or just recorded them as one vacancy per location. Being something of a geography geek, I’ve had a good time uncovering some fascinating insights into the different locations to which some of the bigger employers are recruiting. One of the things I’ve also learned from this process is that the actual number of vacancies at individual sites is often surprisingly low.

The bigger recruiters for whom I’ve had some success in tracking down precise locations so far this month have included Unilever, Tetra Tech, Thales, HSBC, BAE Systems, BBC, Mott MacDonald, Arcadis, Barclays, Morrisons, Aon, Pepsico and (a newcomer to me) accountancy and business advisory firm Azets. Intriguingly, current vacancies at Azets are spread across 41 different locations from Truro (Cornwall) to Ashford (Kent) to Oswestry (Shropshire) to Seaton Burn (north of Newcastle) and they include a few other towns that also rarely get a mention in dispatches such as Launceston, Holsworthy, Evesham, Kettering and Haslingden.

From an occupational perspective the big winners so far this month, in rough order of volume, have included Accountancy, Project Management & Control, Sports Coaches (yet again), Banking & Financial Services, Software Engineering, Quantity Surveying, Civil Engineering, Data Science & Analytics, Food & Drink Manufacturing, Environmental Practitioners (especially appropriate with last week having been Green Careers Week), FinTech, Cyber Security, Insurance and Procurement & Supply. With the BBC launching their annual programme, albeit with modest numbers, Journalism & Broadcasting specialisms were also quite prominent. Meanwhile, a new entrant to the charts in the last three weeks and seemingly gaining a bit of traction has been Audio Visual Technicians. And my almost idiosyncratic list of Digital Technology Solutions specialisms has now reached the dizzy heights of 85 different job titles.  

With several counties punching above their weight so far this month, not least Greater Manchester and Dorset (yet again), it was hard to choose my featured image. However, I’ve decided to cheat and to subtly promote my first upcoming Scotland report (see next paragraph) by digging out an obscure photo I took in a Scottish city one November afternoon a few years ago. If anyone knows where it is (which I doubt), DM me!        

Other home nations update

There was also some significant activity in Scotland, with the number of Graduate Apprenticeship or equivalent opportunities I’ve recorded since 1/6/22 growing from 243 to 279. I have already drafted my first report on Scotland with a view to publishing it, with all the latest cumulative data, at the end of November.

There was a slight tremor of activity in Wales and Northern Ireland too, but in both countries the volume of data I’ve collated doesn’t yet justify a report. In Wales over the same period I’ve now recorded 36 DAs and 32 HAs spread across the country. In Northern Ireland I’ve provisionally recorded nearly 100 vacancies, almost exclusively in Belfast, but so far this is partially based on estimates and therefore as yet insufficiently valid to report on.    


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 112 is the most frequently quoted minimum entry requirement for DAs (sometimes more and quite often 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 proportion of DA and HA opportunities will be snapped up by older applicants or even graduates and therefore work-readiness really matters to enable 18/19-year-olds to compete successfully.  

Headline data

In England during the latest two-week period from 31st October to 12th November 2022 I recorded:

  • 344 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 350 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 138 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 12th November 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 15,757 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 15,133 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 30,890

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 138 weeks since lockdown: 114 DAs + 110 HAs = 224 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’ve definitely seen an upward trend in volume compared with how things looked two to three years ago. However, with the threat of recession now apparently upon us, I’ll be keeping my eye very firmly on the ball in the coming weeks to see if there’s any sign of a slowdown. I suspect that there will be.

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 30,890 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (8,084)
  • Yorkshire (2,734)
  • West Midlands (1,868)
  • Greater Manchester (1,623)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,219)
  • Hampshire (1,077)
  • Berkshire (938)
  • Hertfordshire (791)
  • Surrey (697)
  • Nottinghamshire (640)
  • Cheshire (603)
  • Sussex (586)
  • Tyne & Wear (574)
  • Derbyshire (540)
  • Cambridgeshire (521)
  • Essex (520)
  • Lancashire (502)
  • Warwickshire (477)
  • Suffolk (471)
  • Merseyside (426)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (406)
  • Devon (403)
  • Staffordshire (397)
  • Buckinghamshire (373)
  • Kent (360)
  • Wiltshire (356)
  • County Durham (349)
  • Leicestershire (340)
  • Dorset (338)
  • Oxfordshire (334)
  • Bedfordshire (334)
  • Northamptonshire (294)
  • Cumbria (284)
  • Norfolk (283)
  • Cornwall (277)
  • Worcestershire (219)
  • Lincolnshire (208)
  • Shropshire (156)
  • Isle of Wight (49)
  • Northumberland (45)
  • Herefordshire (33)
  • Rutland (7)
  • Home working with no central base (33)
  • Not specified (121) 

Regional data: The table below shows how those stats add up regionally in the context of the local 15 to 24-year-old population. The population figures have been extracted from the very latest ONS census data published in June 2022 and my analysis 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 to 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 to 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:
  •   8,084   London (1,078,600: 7.49)
  •   3,018   South West (645,800: 4.67)
  •   3,149   West Midlands (720,900: 4.37)
  •   2,935   East of England (685,300: 4.28)
  •   4,380   South East (1,040,500: 4.21)
  •   2,748   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.10)
  •   3,435   North West (884,600: 3.88)
  •   1,977   East Midlands (593,700: 3.33)
  •   1,010   North East (313,000: 3.23)
  •      154   Not specified / Home working
  • 30,890   Total England (6,633,200: 4.66)

Whilst my data is always going to have flaws in it, the above comparisons nonetheless seem to raise continuing questions about ‘levelling up’. The South West being so well-placed is perhaps surprising and Bristol has to take much of the credit for that. But in general there do still seem to be strong hints of a lack of balance between north and south and especially a distinct London-centric element. It’s this very concern that first prompted me to start collating regional as well as occupational data.

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 15,757 new vacancies spread across 105 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows:

2,988 Police Constables 

1,695 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,374 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

  787 Chartered Managers (general)

  782 Software Engineers/Developers

  614 Civil Engineers

  587 Nurses (476 Adult, 86 Mental Health, 20 Learning Disability, 5 Child) 

  531 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  506 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  442 Project Managers

  382 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  321 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  281 Supply Chain Leaders

  278 Design & Development (Mechanical) Engineers

  252 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  236 Cyber Security Professionals

  230 Digital Marketing Professionals

  201 Financial Services Professionals

  187 Manufacturing Engineers

  165 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  163 Sales Professionals

  159 Retail Leaders

  158 Building Services Design Engineers 

  143 Solicitors

  133 Laboratory Scientists

  125 Environmental Practitioners

  124 Professional Economists 

  119 Aerospace Engineers

  112 Construction Managers

  106 Network Engineers

    98 Healthcare Science Practitioners (13 Biomedical Science, 13 Cardiac Physiology, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 10 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 10 Neurophysiology, 10 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)   

    84 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    79 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    76 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    67 Control Engineers

    60 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    58 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    56 Radiographers (36 Diagnostic, 20 Therapeutic)

    50 Project Control Professionals

    45 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers 

    43 Chartered Hospitality Managers

    41 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    40 Internal Audit Professionals    

    39 Town Planners     

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    37 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    37 Occupational Therapists

    36 Clinical Trials Specialists

    36 Podiatrists

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Building Control Surveyors

    29 Social Workers 

    28 Chemical Engineers     

    28 Packaging Professionals 

    27 Business Analysts  

    24 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    24 Environmental Health Officers

    23 Transport Planners    

    21 Human Resources Professionals  

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    17 Architectural Technologists

    17 Journalists

    16 Public Health Practitioners

    15 Architectural Assistants

    15 Geotechnical Engineers

    15 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    15 Marketing Managers

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    12 Insurance Professionals

    12 Physiotherapists

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion Engineers

      7 Fire Safety Engineers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      6 Sport Development Officers

      5 Chartered Legal Executives   

      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 Licensed Conveyancers

      2 Midwives

      2 Pensions Professionals

      2 Tax Technologists

      1 Brewer

      1 Charity Manager

      1 Community Centre Manager

      1 Environmental Engineer

      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 Product Specialist, Data Architect, Network Architect, Enterprise Architect, Digital Solutions Architect, Technology Architect, Cyber Security Specialist, IT Consultant, Solutions Consultant, Software Implementation Consultant, Software Consultant, Technical Consultant, Functional Consultant, Project Manager, Project Co-ordinator, Business Intelligence (BI) Developer, Business Systems Engineer/Developer, Automation Developer, Automation Test Developer, Full Stack Developer, Digital Developer, Technology Manager, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst, Agile Analyst, Applications Support Analyst, Technical Support Analyst, Business Analyst, Business Technology Analyst, Network Strategy 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, Quality Assurance Engineer, Sales Engineer, Sales Account Manager, Sales Operations Manager, Scientific Computing Specialist, Platform Manager, Service Manager, Engineering Information Manager, Information Management Technology Specialist, Amazon Web Services Specialist, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition Specialist, Fixed Telecoms Specialist, Operations Support Analyst, Support Desk Analyst, IT Support Analyst, IT Service Desk Analyst, IT/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 (currently 85) and it just keeps on growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 15,133 new vacancies spread across 141 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,002 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,467 Sales Executives

1,126 Software Developers 

1,092 Data Analysts

1,040 Project Management Associates

1,034 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

  693 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  441 Nursing Associates

  417 Construction Site Supervisors

  406 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  402 Business Analysts  

  353 Network Engineers

  350 Taxation Technicians

  297 Software Testers

  286 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  272 Cyber Security Technologists

  264 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  256 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  238 Retail Assistant Managers

  231 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  213 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  209 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  200 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  184 Technician Scientists

  177 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  172 Insurance Practitioners  

  171 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  158 Marketing Executives

  157 Investment Operations Specialists

  150 Reablement Associate Practitioners (NHS)

  144 DevOps Engineers

  133 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  131 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  129 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  118 Junior Management Consultants

    88 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    86 Human Resources Specialists     

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    77 Nuclear Technicians     

    77 Quality Practitioners

    75 Hospitality Managers

    74 Healthcare Science Associates (22 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 16 (Bio)Medical Engineering Technicians, 15 Cardiorespiratory & Sleep Physiology, 9 Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 2 Medical Physics, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Tissue Retrieval)  

    73 Mineral Products Technicians 

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    69 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (57 unspecified, 5 Mammography, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Occupational Therapy)

    61 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    61 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    54 Internal Audit Practitioners

    51 Actuarial Technicians

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    48 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    47 Journalists

    46 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    43 Brewers 

    42 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    38 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    37 Operations Managers   

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    33 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    32 Automation & Control Engineers

    32 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    31 Dairy Technologists

    29 Railway Engineering Technicians

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    21 Estate Agency Negotiators

    21 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    20 Market Research Executives

    16 Countryside Rangers

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Paralegals

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 Engineer Surveyors

    12 Land Referencers      

    11 Audio Visual Technicians

    11 Digital Community Managers

    11 Film/TV Post-Production Technical Operators

    11 Hygiene Specialists

    10 Air Traffic Controllers

    10 Football Coaches

    10 Information Managers    

      9 Employability Practitioners

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      8 Acoustics Technicians

      8 BEMS Control Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

      8 Emergency Medical Technicians 

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      6 Applications Support Leads

      6 Digital Accessibility Specialists

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 School Business Professionals     

      5 Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officers

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 Broadcasting Technical Operators

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      5 Visual Merchandisers

      4 Aircraft Certifying Technicians

      4 Dental Technicians

      4 Gymnastics/Trampoline Coaches & Rebound Therapists

      4 Space Engineering Technicians

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Fashion & Textiles Technologists

      3 Pensions Administrators

      3 Port Marine Operations Officers

      3 Senior Culinary Chefs

      3 Sports Development Officers   

      3 Town Planning Assistants 

      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 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 Data Protection Practitioner

      1 Fitness Club Manager

      1 Fitness Instructor

      1 Health Informatics Specialist

      1 Horticultural / Landscape Design Practitioner

      1 Junior Energy Manager

      1 Lighting Designer

      1 Metrology Technician

      1 Outdoor Learning Specialist

      1 Padel Coach

      1 Payroll Assistant Manager

      1 Tennis Coach

      1 Travel Agent

      1 Wedding Accessories Designer

      1 Wedding Venue Co-ordinator

Going forward

All being well I will continue posting frequent updates, usually on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

Whilst I’ve been tracking vacancies in England since March 2020, I also started to record Degree and Higher Apprenticeships in Wales and Northern Ireland and Level 10 apprenticeships in Scotland from 1st June 2022. I’ve always been very conscious that my blog only covers England and I intend to redress this with occasional reports on the other home nations, starting with Scotland at the end of this month.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 13/11/2022


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