Reflections on Higher & Degree Apprenticeships in Wales: 1/6/2022 to 31/1/2023


Following on from my weekly reports in which I present aggregated data on degree and higher apprenticeship vacancies in England, and my second report on Scotland which I published earlier today, here’s my first attempt to capture what’s happening in Wales. My objectives and rationale are explained below.

Whilst I made a rather belated start on collecting data for Wales, once I got going I soon began to enjoy the geographical element of my research and finding out where the hubs tend to be. I’m quite familiar with Wales and I’m old enough to remember catching a steam train from Pontllanfraith, visiting the locomotive sheds in Tondu and one of our first ever family holidays in a boarding house in Rhyl. (The reason I picked those places out will soon become clear.) So it’s been interesting to learn more about the current Welsh labour market and, for example, to discover the prominent hub in Deeside which I now realise incorporates places like Shotton, Connah’s Quay and Broughton. After years of confusion, I’ve also learned all about the administrative structure of Wales and its division into county boroughs.  

Despite using a range of sources including the Careers Wales apprenticeships site, I’ve found the Degree (DA) and Higher (HA) Apprenticeship market to be a little on the sluggish side. But I think I now have enough data to start telling a story about the kinds of opportunities that are out there. To be frank, I wouldn’t claim that my data is reliable at this early stage, but it should improve over time and I will also be happy to receive feedback and suggestions from anyone who reads this.  

My reports always come with a featured image, usually from my own photo collection. And with Cardiff not surprisingly being the most prominent hub, I’ve picked out a leafy scene taken on my most recent visit to the capital. The sun always seems to shine when I visit Wales.      


Since 1st June 2022 I’ve kept a record of all new DA and HA vacancies in Wales that I’ve spotted in my daily searches of relevant websites, and in doing so I’ve started to build up an evolving occupational and regional analysis. I only include vacancies that an 18/19-year old could reasonably apply for, either in the year they leave school or college or after gaining a few months’ experience.

The processes I use are based on the methods I’ve developed while recording DA and HA vacancies in England. My target audience is fellow practitioners who work with young people in Wales and you are welcome to share the report with clients if it’s likely to be of interest.

I should emphasise that my data will never be fully reliable for a variety of reasons. For example, some positions may have multiple vacancies but neither this nor the precise number of vacancies are always made clear. Hence, where necessary I’ve made educated and conservative estimates of numbers and have made it a policy to limit this to a maximum of two or three for any apprenticeship that clearly has multiple vacancies but for which precise numbers are unavailable. I know this is a bit arbitrary, but it struck me as a sensible compromise that at least gives some sense of volume. I have also learned over the past three years that when a vacancy posting does state the number of multiple vacancies it can sometimes be misleading, so I always treat such information in a circumspect kind of way and I don’t make assumptions.

The thinking behind the whole exercise, and the reason why I started collecting data for Wales in the first place (and also separately for Scotland and Northern Ireland) is this: if I were a guidance practitioner based in Wales, how could I give clients a sense of the range and volume of degree-level apprenticeships open to them if they were looking for an alternative to the full-time university route?   

Headline data

In the 8-month period from 1st June 2022 to 31st January 2023 I recorded:

  • 64 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies (Levels 6/7) and
  • 73 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies (Levels 5/6), giving a total of 137

3 of these vacancies required applicants to be fluent Welsh speakers.

Analysis by town/city and region

To give a sense of the locations and regional spread of these vacancies, I’ve broken them down in two ways: a) by town/city and b) by county boroughs (which is the way Wales is divided up administratively). In both cases I’ve used the names by which they are commonly known in England.  

Breakdown by town/city:

  • 42 Cardiff (Cardiff)
  • 16 Deeside (Flintshire)
  • 12 Port Talbot (Neath Port Talbot)
  • 10 Glascoed (Monmouthshire)
  •   9 Newport (Newport)
  •   8 Swansea (Swansea)
  •   5 Bridgend (Bridgend)
  •   4 Caernarfon (Gwynedd)
  •   4 Pontypridd (Rhondda Cynon Taf)
  •   3 Llanwern (Newport)
  •   3 Miskin (Rhondda Cynon Taf)
  •   2 Aberporth (Ceredigion)
  •   2 Brecon (Powys)
  •   2 Carmarthen (Carmarthenshire)
  •   2 Llandudno Junction (Conwy)
  •   2 Llanelli (Carmarthenshire)
  •   2 St Asaph (Denbighshire)
  •   2 Wrexham (Wrexham)
  •   1 Bangor (Gwynedd)
  •   1 Conwy (Conwy)
  •   1 Hengoed (Caerphilly)
  •   1 Pendine (Carmarthenshire)
  •   1 Pontllanfraith (Caerphilly)
  •   1 Rhyl (Denbighshire)
  •   1 Tondu (Bridgend)

Breakdown by region (county boroughs): 

  •   42 Cardiff   
  •   16 Flintshire
  •   12 Neath Port Talbot
  •   12 Newport
  •   10 Monmouthshire
  •     8 Swansea
  •     7 Rhondda Cynon Taf
  •     6 Bridgend
  •     5 Carmarthenshire
  •     5 Gwynedd
  •     3 Conwy
  •     3 Denbighshire
  •     2 Caerphilly
  •     2 Ceredigion
  •     2 Powys
  •     2 Wrexham

Occupational analysis

I’ve broken the new vacancies down into what I loosely define as ‘occupational areas’, which in some cases differ from official terminology. Since 1st June 2022 the complete list of occupational areas represented is given below. In my view, this provides an interesting insight into what the emerging occupations are in a changing career landscape.

Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7):

In total there have been 64 new vacancies spread across 21 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £9,380 to £24,836, with the average being around £20,000. The occupational breakdown is as follows:

12 Software Engineers/Developers

  8 Digital Technology Solutions (general)

  6 Accountants & Audit Specialists  

  5 Tax Specialists

  4 Manufacturing & Production Engineers

  3 Data Scientists

  3 Design & Development Engineers

  3 Economists

  2 Aerospace Engineers

  2 Business Managers

  2 Civil Engineers

  2 Cyber Security Analysts

  2 Electrical & Electronic Engineers

  2 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Specialists

  2 Retail Leaders

  1 Digital User Experience (UX) Designer

  1 Food Manufacturing Manager

  1 Media Systems Engineer

  1 Optical Calibration Engineer

  1 Quantity Surveyor

  1 Transport Planner

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 73 new vacancies spread across 29 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £9,380 to a whopping £31,349, with the average being around £17,000. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

10 Accounting Technicians

  9 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  7 Project Management Associates

  6 Electrical & Electronic Engineering Technicians

  4 Civil Engineering Technicians

  4 Technician Scientists

  3 Data Analysts

  3 Junior Management Consultants

  2 Digital News Journalists

  2 IT Business Specialists

  2 Hospitality Managers

  2 Purchasing & Supply Chain Specialists

  2 Retail Managers

  2 Software Developers

  1 Armourer

  1 Broadcasting Technical Operator

  1 Business Administrator

  1 Business Analyst

  1 Business Improvement Practitioner (Health & Safety)

  1 Digital Marketing Executive

  1 Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technician

  1 Facilities Manager

  1 Materials Technician

  1 Media Production Co-ordinator

  1 Quantity Surveying Technician

  1 Radio & Television Journalist

  1 Railway Engineering Technician

  1 Regulatory Compliance Officer

  1 Welsh Language Translator

Going forward

I aim to publish another update at the beginning of April.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 7/2/2023

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