Week 141: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – latest developments

Latest reflections in England

Unusually, Cumbria was this week’s regional hotspot while Rutland stood out too for punching above its weight. Cumbria contributed more than half of the week’s haul of DAs, mainly due to a substantial posting of Nuclear Engineer/Scientist and Project Management vacancies at Sellafield, whilst tiny Rutland reached double figures after being one of numerous locations benefitting from a bulk posting of Supply Chain Leader DAs with DHL Services. Cheshire was quite prominent again too. In fact, from a regional perspective the North West seems to have launched something of a fight-back and it has almost caught up with the East and South East. My featured image is a wintry Cumbrian scene taken on a drive through the county a few years ago.  

The other most notable employer was global architectural and consulting services provider Ove Arup & Partners, with opportunities at several locations in various engineering disciplines alongside data analysts, information managers and environmental practitioners. It’s been especially interesting to see the gradual increase in environmental roles in general over the past couple of years, and this week they included four more Environmental Practitioner DAs in Solihull, Manchester, Bristol and Leatherhead, and four Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioner HAs in London, Leatherhead and one Home-based. There was another Dietitian too, the third in three weeks, this time in Taunton. 

Other home nations update

I’m not sure how useful it will be, but I also published my first Scotland report over the weekend. There may be flaws in it, but with a lot going on at present I decided to just put it out there and see what happens. Any feedback will be appreciated to see if it’s worth continuing or whether I’ve misunderstood elements of how things work north of the border. Here’s a link to it:



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, plus occasional listings by Amazing Apprenticeships and High Fliers.

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.

Since 1st June 2022 I’ve also been collecting data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a view to producing occasional reports going forward.  

Headline data

In England during the latest period from 28th November to 4th December 2022 I recorded:

  • 179 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 85 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 141 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 4th December 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 16,701 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 15,506 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 32,207

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 first 70 weeks after lockdown: 84 DAs + 75 HAs = 159 total
  • Weekly average in the 141 weeks since lockdown: 118 DAs +
  • 110 HAs = 228 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 much 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.

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 32,207 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (8,349)
  • Yorkshire (2,830)
  • West Midlands (1,920)
  • Greater Manchester (1,692)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,309)
  • Hampshire (1,114)
  • Berkshire (978)
  • Hertfordshire (807)
  • Surrey (743)
  • Nottinghamshire (654)
  • Cheshire (629)
  • Sussex (611)
  • Tyne & Wear (595)
  • Merseyside (586)
  • Derbyshire (570)
  • Cambridgeshire (534)
  • Essex (532)
  • Lancashire (519)
  • Warwickshire (486)
  • Suffolk (473)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (425)
  • Devon (417)
  • Cumbria (402)
  • Staffordshire (399)
  • Buckinghamshire (384)
  • Kent (380)
  • Dorset (365)
  • Wiltshire (363)
  • County Durham (352)
  • Bedfordshire (347)
  • Leicestershire (344)
  • Oxfordshire (342)
  • Northamptonshire (301)
  • Norfolk (289)
  • Cornwall (278)
  • Worcestershire (228)
  • Lincolnshire (213)
  • Shropshire (177)
  • Isle of Wight (53)
  • Northumberland (45)
  • Herefordshire (33)
  • Rutland (10)
  • Home working with no central base (34)
  • Not specified (95) 

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:
  •   8,349   London (1,078,600: 7.74)
  •   3,176   South West (645,800: 4.92)
  •   3,242   West Midlands (720,900: 4.50)
  •   4,571   South East (1,040,500: 4.37)
  •   2,997   East of England (685,300: 4.36)
  •   3,825   North West (884,600: 4.32)
  •   2,847   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.24)
  •   2,037   East Midlands (593,700: 3.43)
  •   1,034   North East (313,000: 3.30)
  •      129   Not specified / Home working
  • 32,207   Total England (6,633,200: 4.86)

Whilst my data is always going to have flaws in it, the above comparisons nonetheless seem to raise continuing questions about ‘levelling up’. There are 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. The South West being so well-placed is perhaps surprising, although Bristol takes much of the credit for that.  

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 16,701 new vacancies spread across 107 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows:

3,135 Police Constables 

1,813 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,511 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

  862 Chartered Managers (general)

  802 Software Engineers/Developers

  620 Civil Engineers

  590 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

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

  534 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  473 Project Managers

  385 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  340 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  303 Supply Chain Leaders

  284 Design & Development (Mechanical) Engineers

  256 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  255 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  248 Cyber Security Professionals

  232 Digital Marketing Professionals

  208 Financial Services Professionals

  188 Manufacturing Engineers

  178 Sales Professionals

  173 Building Services Design Engineers 

  154 Solicitors 

  153 Retail Leaders

  136 Professional Economists 

  134 Laboratory Scientists

  131 Construction Managers

  131 Environmental Practitioners

  127 Aerospace Engineers

  112 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)   

    85 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    80 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    79 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    67 Control Engineers

    64 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    64 Radiographers (40 Diagnostic, 24 Therapeutic)

    63 Project Control Professionals

    61 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers    

    53 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers 

    43 Chartered Hospitality Managers

    41 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    40 Internal Audit Professionals    

    39 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    39 Occupational Therapists

    39 Town Planners     

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    37 Clinical Trials Specialists

    36 Podiatrists

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Building Control Surveyors

    29 Social Workers 

    28 Business Analysts  

    28 Chemical Engineers     

    28 Packaging Professionals 

    24 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    24 Environmental Health Officers

    24 Transport Planners    

    21 Human Resources Professionals  

    20 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    19 Design & Construction Professionals

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    17 Journalists

    17 Public Health Practitioners

    15 Architectural Assistants

    15 Geotechnical Engineers

    15 Marketing Managers

    15 Professional Foresters

    14 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    12 Insurance Professionals

    12 Physiotherapists

    10 Midwives      

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      9 Fire Safety Engineers

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      8 Propulsion 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 Dietitians

      3 Digital Transformation Engineers

      3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

      3 TV Production Managers

      2 Education Technology Specialists

      2 Licensed Conveyancers

      2 Pensions Professionals

      2 Tax Technologists

      1 Brewer

      1 Career Development Professional

      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

      1 Sonographer     

*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, Second Line Support Technician, WordPress Developer, Public Health Intelligence Officer, 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 86) and it just keeps on growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 15,506 new vacancies spread across 142 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,002 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,493 Sales Executives

1,147 Software Developers 

1,118 Data Analysts

1,055 Accounting Technicians

1,054 Project Management Associates

  741 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  463 Construction Site Supervisors

  442 Nursing Associates

  414 Business Analysts  

  412 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  359 Network Engineers

  354 Taxation Technicians

  302 Software Testers

  294 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  291 Cyber Security Technologists

  276 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  258 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  238 Retail Assistant Managers

  233 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  213 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  210 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  201 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  185 Technician Scientists

  179 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  174 Insurance Practitioners  

  172 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  165 Investment Operations Specialists

  159 Marketing Executives

  150 DevOps Engineers

  150 Reablement Associate Practitioners (NHS)

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  134 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  132 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  126 Junior Management Consultants

    91 Human Resources Specialists     

    88 Construction Design & Build Technicia

    80 Quality Practitioners

    79 Healthcare Science Associates (24 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 17 (Bio)Medical Engineering Technicians, 16 Cardiorespiratory & Sleep Physiology, 9 Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 2 Medical Physics, 2 Tissue Retrieval, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering)  

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    77 Hospitality Managers

    77 Nuclear Technicians     

    76 Mineral Products Technicians 

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    70 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (58 Multidisciplinary, 5 Mammography, 4 Speech Therapy, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Occupational Therapy)

    66 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    61 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    56 Actuarial Technicians

    55 Internal Audit Practitioners

    50 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    47 Journalists

    47 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    43 Brewers 

    42 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    38 Operations Managers   

    38 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    33 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    32 Automation & Control Engineers

    32 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    31 Dairy Technologists

    30 Railway Engineering Technicians

    26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    21 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    21 Market Research Executives

    17 Countryside Rangers

    16 Paralegals

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    14 Information Managers    

    13 Land Referencers      

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 Digital Community Managers

    12 Engineer Surveyors

    11 Audio Visual Technicians

    11 Film/TV Post-Production Technical Operators

    11 Hygiene Specialists

    10 Air Traffic Controllers

    10 Football Coaches

      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)

      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 Dental Technicians

      5 Nuclear Welding Inspection Technicians

      5 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      5 Visual Merchandisers

      4 Aircraft Certifying 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 Travel Executives

      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 Process Leader

      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 or Monday mornings.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 5/12/2022


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