Week 146: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – a steady start to 2023

Latest reflections in England

Given that this was a short week, DAs in particular held up quite well with a good supply of new vacancies especially for Engineers (mainly Aerospace, Manufacturing and Design & Development), Accountants/Auditors, Solicitors and Project Managers.

It was also good to see the East Midlands bouncing back, thanks especially to Rolls-Royce and the Cooper Parry Group. The latter openly admits to being hailed ‘the rebels of accountancy’ because of its disruptive approach, an interesting sign of the times. I’ve chosen the East Midlands for my featured image, a seasonal photo I took during a business trip in the region.   

It has also been interesting to note the steady trickle of Solicitor vacancies becoming a little more prominent than I’ve known it in the past and I’m keeping my eye on this. The latest batch of new legal vacancies were in London and Bristol. Healthcare Science Practitioners have been stirring too and the total has now passed 100 across a diverse range of specialisms, although in some cases a school or college leaver would need to be exceptionally well-prepared to compete for them. But then that’s probably true of a lot of DAs in the health sector, and other sectors too for that matter.

Week 147 might be quite intriguing, as amongst other things Dyson Institute’s annual DA programme is due to launch tomorrow (Monday 9th).

Other home nations update

There has also been a small amount of activity in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and I’m now on track to produce my first Wales report as well as my second Scotland report, hopefully at the end of 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 2nd to 8th January 2023 I recorded:

  • 132 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  •   60 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 146 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 8th January 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 17,431 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 15,959 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 33,390

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 146 weeks since lockdown: 119.4 DAs + 109.3 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 33,390 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (8,588)
  • Yorkshire (2,894)
  • West Midlands (1,981)
  • Greater Manchester (1,766)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,402)
  • Hampshire (1,166)
  • Berkshire (1,026)
  • Hertfordshire (826)
  • Surrey (793)
  • Nottinghamshire (665)
  • Cheshire (652)
  • Sussex (630)
  • Tyne & Wear (627)
  • Derbyshire (611)
  • Merseyside (601)
  • Essex (578)
  • Cambridgeshire (551)
  • Lancashire (525)
  • Warwickshire (490)
  • Suffolk (487)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (440)
  • Devon (439)
  • Kent (436)
  • Cumbria (416)
  • Staffordshire (409)
  • Buckinghamshire (398)
  • Wiltshire (387)
  • Dorset (373)
  • Leicestershire (370)
  • County Durham (363)
  • Bedfordshire (350)
  • Oxfordshire (348)
  • Northamptonshire (305)
  • Norfolk (294)
  • Cornwall (279)
  • Worcestershire (243)
  • Lincolnshire (214)
  • Shropshire (187)
  • Isle of Wight (53)
  • Northumberland (47)
  • Herefordshire (34)
  • Rutland (11)
  • Home working with no central base (35)
  • 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:
  •   8,588   London (1,078,600: 7.96
  •   3,339   South West (645,800: 5.17)
  •   3,343   West Midlands (720,900: 4.64)  
  •   4,816   South East (1,040,500: 4.63)
  •   3,101   East of England (685,300: 4.52)
  •   3,957   North West (884,600: 4.47)
  •   2,911   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.34)
  •   2,121   East Midlands (593,700: 3.57)
  •   1,079   North East (313,000: 3.45)
  •      135   Not specified / Home working
  • 33,390   Total England (6,633,200: 5.00)

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 17,431 new vacancies spread across 108 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £32,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows:

3,135 Police Constables 

1,913 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,557 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

  895 Chartered Managers (general)

  850 Software Engineers/Developers

  691 Civil Engineers

  603 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

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

  550 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  510 Project Managers

  394 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  357 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  307 Supply Chain Leaders

  301 Design & Development (Mechanical) Engineers

  285 Nuclear Engineers/Scientists  

  264 Cyber Security Professionals

  261 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  232 Digital Marketing Professionals

  214 Financial Services Professionals

  210 Manufacturing Engineers

  196 Professional Economists 

  191 Solicitors 

  185 Building Services Design Engineers 

  182 Sales Professionals

  154 Aerospace Engineers

  153 Retail Leaders

  145 Laboratory Scientists

  134 Environmental Practitioners

  132 Construction Managers

  128 Network Engineers

  105 Healthcare Science Practitioners (15 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 10 Neurophysiology, 10 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 7 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 7 Audiology, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 2 Medical Physics Technology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist)   

    85 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners  

    84 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    80 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

    69 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers    

    69 Radiographers (41 Diagnostic, 28 Therapeutic)

    68 Control Engineers    

    67 Project Controls Professionals

    65 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    53 Materials Scientists/Technologists/Engineers 

    45 Occupational Therapists

    43 Chartered Managers (Hospitality)

    42 Town Planners     

    41 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    41 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

    39 Chartered Building Control Surveyors

    38 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

    37 Clinical Trials Specialists

    36 Podiatrists

    33 Chemical Engineers     

    33 Human Resources Professionals  

    31 Business Analysts  

    30 Recruitment Professionals

    29 Design & Construction Professionals

    29 Social Workers 

    28 Packaging Professionals 

    28 Transport Planners    

    24 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    24 Environmental Health Officers

    21 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    20 Junior Traders (Global Financial Markets)     

    19 Marketing Managers

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    17 Architectural Assistants

    17 Journalists

    16 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    15 Geotechnical Engineers

    15 Professional Foresters

    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 Dietitians

      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 Career Development Professionals

      2 Education Technology Specialists

      2 Licensed Conveyancers

      2 Pensions Professionals

      2 Tax Technologists

      1 Brewer

      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 15,959 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: 

1,532 Sales Executives

1,170 Software Developers 

1,126 Data Analysts

1,072 Accounting Technicians

1,068 Project Management Associates

  865 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  480 Construction Site Supervisors

  452 Nursing Associates

  425 Business Analysts  

  418 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  369 Network Engineers

  355 Taxation Technicians

  313 Software Testers

  305 Cyber Security Technologists

  305 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  281 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  262 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  238 Retail Assistant Managers

  235 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

  203 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  186 Technician Scientists

  182 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  176 Insurance Practitioners  

  172 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  165 Investment Operations Specialists

  163 Marketing Executives

  156 DevOps Engineers

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  136 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  134 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  130 Junior Management Consultants

  115 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    93 Human Resources Specialists     

    92 Mineral Products Technicians 

    88 Healthcare Science Associates (29 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 20 (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)  

    86 Quality Practitioners

    78 Nuclear Technicians     

    77 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

    77 Hospitality Managers

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    71 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     

    44 Brewers 

    42 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    41 Operations Managers   

    40 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    33 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    33 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    32 Automation & Control Engineers

    31 Dairy Technologists

    30 Railway Engineering Technicians

    29 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    22 Market Research Executives

    21 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    20 Information Managers    

    17 Audiovisual Technicians

    17 Countryside Rangers

    16 Paralegals

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    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 Employability Practitioners

    10 Football Coaches

      9 Acoustics Technicians

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      8 Applications Support Leads

      8 BEMS Control Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      6 Digital Accessibility Specialists

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 School Business Professionals     

      6 Town Planning Technicians 

      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 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, usually on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 8/1/2023


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