Week 151: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – #NAW2023 delivers the goods

Latest reflections in England

A total of 505 new vacancies were added to my cumulative DA and HA totals during National Apprenticeship Week and that was without including some that I had pre-empted and already counted, as well as having to make some small downward adjustments. So it was a very productive week and especially for Software Engineers and Project Managers, the former having now reached four figures in my DA listings. The variety of other vacancies was impressive too with a total of 78 occupational areas represented.  

A specific HA that caught my eye was an Apprentice Cricket Coach with the MCC. The successful candidate will train to work with children of all ages and abilities (from age 4 upwards) both at Lord’s Indoor Cricket Centre and in schools in the local borough.   

On a less positive note, regional variation reared its head again with Greater London soaring ahead once more. The metropolis now accounts for more than a quarter of all the vacancies I’ve recorded over the past three years, which confirms what I suspected when I first started collecting data. Provincially it’s more of a curate’s egg and the South West continues to stand out by punching above its weight with remarkable consistency. Wiltshire in particular was a surprisingly fertile county on this occasion and hence it’s the location of this week’s featured image from my photo collection.

One little gremlin that does its best to distort my data is when employers re-advertise existing vacancies. I can certainly understand why they do this, but I’ve developed a detector gland that normally spots it. During #NAW2023 I noticed several re-posts, some with quite a high volume too, but I will not be fooled! This is also why I re-adjusted my data slightly downwards this week after spotting a couple of duplications that I previously missed.  

Other home nations: monthly reports on Scotland and Wales

My first Wales report and my second Scotland report were posted on my blog last week and it’s now my intention to update these at the start of every month. My Northern Ireland data is still too unreliable to report on at this stage, but I’m actively working on it.

Wales has been a bit quiet again during the past few days but there has been some activity in Scotland. Having started tracking vacancies in the other home nations last June, my latest running totals are:

  • Scotland: 449 vacancies at SQF Levels 10/11
  • Wales: 65 vacancies at Levels 6/7 and 73 at Levels 4/5  


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 tabs on other national vacancy sources including NHS Jobs, Not Going to Uni, Rate My Apprenticeship, UCAS, Get My First Job, Investment 20/20 and Amazing Apprenticeships.

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 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 an applicant 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.

Headline data

In England during the latest period from 6th to 12th February 2023 I recorded:

  • 302 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 203 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies 

In the 151 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 12th February 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 19,014 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 16,760 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 35,774

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 151 weeks since lockdown: 126 DAs + 111 HAs = 237 total

This shows that both DAs and HAs have more than fully recovered since the initial reductions in the early days of the pandemic, although 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. And 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 downturn.

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 35,774 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (9,005)
  • Yorkshire (3,070)
  • West Midlands (2,261)
  • Greater Manchester (1,931)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,554)
  • Hampshire (1,236)
  • Berkshire (1,123)
  • Hertfordshire (874)
  • Surrey (827)
  • Cheshire (724)
  • Derbyshire (721)
  • Nottinghamshire (700)
  • Tyne & Wear (682)
  • Sussex (656)
  • Merseyside (648)
  • Cambridgeshire (623)
  • Essex (590)
  • Lancashire (543)
  • Warwickshire (516)
  • Devon (502)
  • Suffolk (490)
  • Kent (463)
  • Wiltshire (462)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (459)
  • Cumbria (427)
  • Staffordshire (423)
  • Buckinghamshire (421)
  • Dorset (421)
  • Leicestershire (392)
  • County Durham (384)
  • Bedfordshire (379)
  • Oxfordshire (367)
  • Northamptonshire (312)
  • Norfolk (299)
  • Cornwall (279)
  • Worcestershire (263)
  • Lincolnshire (237)
  • Shropshire (227)
  • Isle of Wight (53)
  • Northumberland (47)
  • Herefordshire (38)
  • Rutland (13)
  • Home working with no central base (37)
  • 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 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 latest ONS data 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:
  •   9,005   London (1,078,600: 8.35)
  •   3,696   South West (645,800: 5.72)
  •   3,727   West Midlands (720,900: 5.17)  
  •   5,112   South East (1,040,500: 4.91)
  •   4,270   North West (884,600: 4.83)
  •   3,270   East of England (685,300: 4.77)
  •   3,086   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.60)
  •   2,318   East Midlands (593,700: 3.90)
  •   1,158   North East (313,000: 3.70)
  •      132   Not specified / Home working
  • 35,774   Total England (6,633,200: 5.39)

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 was my curiosity about this that first prompted me to start collating regional as well as occupational data. The South West being so well-placed is perhaps surprising and Bristol takes much of the credit for that. There are also prominent hubs around Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.    

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 19,014 new vacancies spread across 105 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,150pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows:

3,205 Police Constables 

2,199 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,686 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,006 Software Engineers/Developers

  992 Chartered Business Managers

  743 Civil Engineers

  642 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  613 Project Managers

  590 Nurses (479 Adult, 86 Mental Health, 20 Learning Disability, 5 Child) 

  578 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  416 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  413 Design & Development Engineers

  412 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  373 Nuclear Engineers  

  333 Supply Chain Leaders

  278 Cyber Security Professionals

  269 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  258 Manufacturing Engineers

  252 Banking & Financial Services Professionals

  235 Digital Marketing Professionals

  232 Solicitors 

  199 Building Services Engineers 

  196 Professional Economists

  196 Sales Professionals

  180 Laboratory Scientists

  179 Aerospace Engineers

  153 Retail Leaders

  148 Environmental Practitioners

  143 Construction Managers

  128 Network Engineers

  108 Healthcare Science Practitioners (15 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 11 Nuclear Medicine Technology, 10 Neurophysiology, 10 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 9 Audiology, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 2 Medical Physics Technology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist) 

    93 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners

    92 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    83 Control Engineers   

    81 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals   

    77 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    75 Project Controls Professionals

    71 Radiographers (42 Diagnostic, 29 Therapeutic)   

    65 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    55 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers     

    55 Occupational Therapists

    43 Building Control Surveyors

    43 Town Planners

    41 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    41 Creative Digital Design Professionals          

    40 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)

    39 Chemical Engineers     

    39 Podiatrists

    37 Clinical Trials Specialists

    33 Human Resources Professionals  

    32 Business Analysts  

    32 Design & Construction Professionals

    32 Recruitment Professionals

    31 Transport Planners    

    29 Packaging Professionals 

    29 Social Workers 

    28 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    26 Environmental Health Officers

    22 Marketing/Brand Managers

    21 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    19 Architectural Assistants

    18 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    18 Journalists

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    16 Geotechnical Engineers

    15 Forestry Professionals

    15 Physiotherapists

    14 Fire Safety Engineers

    12 Insurance Professionals

    10 Midwives      

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Dietitians

      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 Speech & Language Therapists

      3 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

      3 Career Development Practitioners

      3 Digital Transformation Engineers

      3 Education Technology Specialists

      3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

      3 TV Production Managers

      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 Lighting Designer

      1 Marine Engineer

      1 Population Health Intelligence Analyst

      1 Prosthetist & Orthotist

      1 Sonographer 

      1 Youth Worker    

*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 16,760 new vacancies spread across 143 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,002 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,569 Sales Executives

1,192 Software Developers 

1,183 Data Analysts

1,136 Project Management Associates

1,088 Accounting Technicians

  843 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  512 Construction Site Supervisors

  463 Nursing Associates

  456 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  441 Business Analysts  

  389 Network Engineers

  358 Taxation Technicians

  348 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  322 Software Testers

  316 Cyber Security Technologists

  305 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  282 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  269 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  249 Retail Managers

  246 Buying & Merchandising Assistants

  230 Building Services Engineering Technicians

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

  216 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  198 Insurance Practitioners  

  197 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  188 Technician Scientists

  185 Marketing Executives

  172 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  169 Investment Operations Specialists

  166 DevOps Engineers

  147 Junior Management Consultants

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  143 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  142 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  122 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  106 Human Resources Specialists     

  103 Mineral Products Technicians 

    95 Food Technology/Manufacturing Technicians 

    95 Quality Practitioners

    93 Healthcare Science Associates (29 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 20 Cardio/Respiratory/Sleep Physiology, 20 Medical Engineering Technicians, 9 Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 3 Tissue Retrieval, 2 Medical Physics, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Biomedicine, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering)  

    89 Nuclear Technicians  

    86 Hospitality Managers

    77 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    61 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    60 Internal Audit Practitioners

    58 Actuarial Technicians

    58 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    47 Journalists

    47 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    45 Brewers 

    41 Operations Managers   

    41 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    37 Automation & Controls Engineers

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    36 Dairy Technologists

    36 Railway Engineering Technicians

    34 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    33 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    29 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    28 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    25 Information Managers    

    24 Engineer Surveyors

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    23 Market Research Executives

    18 Audiovisual Technicians

    17 Countryside Rangers

    16 Paralegals

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    14 Land Referencers      

    12 Applications Support Leads

    12 BEMS Controls Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 Digital Community Managers

    11 Acoustics Technicians

    11 Film/TV Post-Production Technical Operators

    11 Hygiene Specialists

    10 Air Traffic Controllers

    10 Employability Practitioners

    10 Football Coaches

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      6 Digital Accessibility Specialists

      6 Facilities Managers

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      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 Visual Merchandisers

      4 Aircraft Certifying Technicians

      4 Asset Managers

      4 Gymnastics/Trampoline Coaches & Rebound Therapists

      4 Space Engineering Technicians

      4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

      3 Early Intervention Practitioners

      3 Fashion & Textiles Technologists

      3 Historic Site Advisers

      3 Music Teachers

      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 Energy Specialists

      2 Music Recording Technicians

      2 Padel Coaches

      2 Tax Technology Technicians

      2 Travel Executives

      2 VFX Artists

      2 Water Recycling Engineers

      1 Chaplain

      1 Chemical Process Technician

      1 Clinical Coder

      1 Cricket Coach

      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 Lighting Designer

      1 Metrology Technician

      1 Outdoor Learning Specialist

      1 Payroll Assistant Manager

      1 Process Leader

      1 Proposals Co-ordinator

      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, 12/2/2023


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