Week 143: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – busier than expected

Latest reflections in England

I’m not expecting many readers this week but having crunched my latest data there’s been enough activity to justify publishing an update. The highlights were yet another big haul of Sports Coach HAs, especially in Essex and Kent, and a crop of Nuclear Scientists/Engineers which is perhaps not an occupation you would expect to see so highly placed (15th) in my DA listings.

One other notable activity was the continuation of the recent steady trickle of Solicitor DAs. This week it was the turn of Allen & Overy to launch its 2023 intake, with six places on offer in London. As I mentioned last week, the volume of Solicitor DAs is a theme I find interesting to reflect on and, whilst I think six places is quite generous and compares well with other firms, it shows why overall numbers are quite low in comparison with the level of interest that probably exists. 

With various parts of Kent being prominent again, my featured image is a seasonal photo I took in the county several years ago.

Other home nations update

There was a glimmer of activity in Scotland and Wales too and I now hope to publish my first Wales report and my second Scotland one in January.   


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, Rate My Apprenticeship and UCAS, 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 Level 3 apprenticeships too. It’s also true that a significant proportion of opportunities at Levels 4 to 7 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 on my blog going forward. My first Scotland report was published on 2nd December.  

Headline data

In England during the latest period from 12th to 18th December 2022 I recorded:

  • 134 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 138 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 143 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 18th December 2022) I’ve now recorded:

  • 17,009 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 15,752 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 32,761

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 143 weeks since lockdown: 119 DAs +
  • 110 HAs = 229 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 32,761 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (8,465)
  • Yorkshire (2,853)
  • West Midlands (1,944)
  • Greater Manchester (1,730)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,360)
  • Hampshire (1,138)
  • Berkshire (1,016)
  • Hertfordshire (814)
  • Surrey (760)
  • Nottinghamshire (660)
  • Cheshire (639)
  • Sussex (617)
  • Tyne & Wear (612)
  • Merseyside (588)
  • Derbyshire (580)
  • Essex (561)
  • Cambridgeshire (541)
  • Lancashire (524)
  • Warwickshire (487)
  • Suffolk (484)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (431)
  • Devon (429)
  • Kent (411)
  • Cumbria (409)
  • Staffordshire (407)
  • Buckinghamshire (396)
  • Wiltshire (369)
  • Dorset (367)
  • County Durham (354)
  • Leicestershire (352)
  • Bedfordshire (349)
  • Oxfordshire (346)
  • Northamptonshire (301)
  • Norfolk (290)
  • Cornwall (279)
  • Worcestershire (232)
  • Lincolnshire (213)
  • Shropshire (177)
  • Isle of Wight (53)
  • Northumberland (46)
  • Herefordshire (33)
  • Rutland (10)
  • Home working with no central base (34)
  • Not specified (100) 

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:
  •   8,465   London (1,078,600: 7.85)
  •   3,254   South West (645,800: 5.04)
  •   3,279   West Midlands (720,900: 4.55)
  •   4,703   South East (1,040,500: 4.52)
  •   3,054   East of England (685,300: 4.46)
  •   3,887   North West (884,600: 4.39)
  •   2,870   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.28)
  •   2,061   East Midlands (593,700: 3.47)
  •   1,054   North East (313,000: 3.37)
  •      134   Not specified / Home working
  • 32,761   Total England (6,633,200: 4.90)

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 17,009 new vacancies spread across 109 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows:

3,135 Police Constables 

1,816 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,545 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

  877 Chartered Managers (general)

  825 Software Engineers/Developers

  637 Civil Engineers

  602 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  588 Nurses (477 Adult, 86 Mental Health, 20 Learning Disability, 5 Child) 

  544 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  491 Project Managers

  393 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  351 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  304 Supply Chain Leaders

  286 Design & Development (Mechanical) Engineers

  278 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  264 Cyber Security Professionals

  261 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  232 Digital Marketing Professionals

  208 Financial Services Professionals

  197 Manufacturing Engineers

  180 Sales Professionals

  178 Building Services Design Engineers 

  169 Solicitors 

  153 Retail Leaders

  136 Professional Economists 

  134 Environmental Practitioners

  134 Laboratory Scientists

  131 Construction Managers

  128 Network Engineers

  127 Aerospace Engineers

    99 Healthcare Science Practitioners (13 Biomedical Science, 13 Cardiac Physiology, 11 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 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

    80 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    67 Control Engineers    

    66 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers    

    66 Radiographers (41 Diagnostic, 25 Therapeutic)

    64 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    64 Project Control Professionals

    53 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers 

    43 Chartered Hospitality Managers

    42 Occupational Therapists

    41 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    40 Internal Audit Professionals    

    40 Town Planners     

    39 Chartered Building Control Surveyors

    39 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    37 Clinical Trials Specialists

    36 Podiatrists

    33 Human Resources Professionals  

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Design & Construction Professionals

    29 Social Workers 

    28 Business Analysts  

    28 Chemical Engineers     

    28 Packaging Professionals 

    25 Transport Planners    

    24 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    24 Environmental Health Officers

    20 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    19 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    17 Architectural Assistants

    17 Journalists

    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

      7 Land Buyers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      6 Sport Development Officers

      5 Chartered Legal Executives   

      5 Operations Analysts

      4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

      4 Compliance & Risk Specialists

      4 Dietitians

      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 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 Games Programmer

      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, Prototype 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 87) and it just keeps on growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 15,752 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: 

1,512 Sales Executives

1,165 Software Developers 

1,119 Data Analysts

1,064 Accounting Technicians

1,060 Project Management Associates

  817 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  473 Construction Site Supervisors

  443 Nursing Associates

  421 Business Analysts  

  414 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  363 Network Engineers

  355 Taxation Technicians

  312 Software Testers

  302 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  295 Cyber Security Technologists

  279 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  261 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  238 Retail Assistant Managers

  234 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  222 Healthcare Associate Practitioners (150 Reablement, 59 Multidisciplinary, 5 Mammography, 5 Speech Therapy, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Occupational Therapy)

  214 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  210 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  202 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  185 Technician Scientists

  182 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  174 Insurance Practitioners  

  172 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  165 Investment Operations Specialists

  159 Marketing Executives

  153 DevOps Engineers

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  134 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  133 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  129 Junior Management Consultants

  113 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    92 Human Resources Specialists     

    84 Healthcare Science Associates (28 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 17 (Bio)Medical Engineering Technicians, 17 Cardiorespiratory & Sleep Physiology, 9 Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 2 Medical Physics, 2 Tissue Retrieval, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering)  

    83 Quality Practitioners

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    77 Hospitality Managers

    77 Mineral Products Technicians 

    77 Nuclear Technicians     

    72 Recruitment Consultants

      68 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

    40 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    39 Operations Managers   

    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

    18 Information Managers    

    17 Countryside Rangers

    16 Paralegals

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    14 Audiovisual Technicians

    13 Land Referencers      

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 Digital Community Managers

    12 Engineer Surveyors

    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 Applications Support Leads

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      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 Historic Site Advisers

      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 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 in the New Year, usually on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 20/12/2022


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