Week 153: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship overview – a great week for data

Latest reflections in England

I thought things would continue to slow down after National Apprenticeship Week ended, but I was wrong. It’s been a busy week, boosted by coming across a big tranche of HA vacancies for Electrical & Electronic Engineering Technicians with National Grid at a wide range of locations stretching from Merseyside to Cornwall. Candidates will need to be very ’work-ready’ to meet the criteria, but that’s par for the course these days.

The other big highlight was a huge trawl of DAs and HAs in Data Science & Analytics – 64 in total. It’s been very noticeable how vacancies in Data occupations have been increasing relentlessly over the past couple of years, to the extent that this week Data Analyst HAs finally overhauled Software Developers as the second most prolific HA occupation. The same trend is happening in my DA listings in which Data occupations jumped from tenth to eighth place this week. We should ignore Data careers at our peril!      

There have been other developments too and regular readers may notice a couple of small changes in my format. Firstly, in my regional listings I’ve retitled ‘Home-based’ as ‘Remote-working’ because I’m noticing a steady but growing trickle of vacancies for which I think this is the best description. By ‘remote’ I mean apprenticeships which have no central base and can therefore be worked from home, albeit in some instances with frequent travelling required. There were six such vacancies this week. I would add that this doesn’t include ‘hybrid’ positions, which are growing rapidly but do normally require some attendance at one specific location.  

The other change is that I’ve ditched my pre- and post-COVID average weekly comparisons, as these days my vacancy scans are more thorough than they used to be and hence the comparisons have exceeded their sell-by date.

From a regional perspective London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds were the busiest hubs this week, while Oxfordshire, Kent, Essex and Warwickshire noticeably punched above their weight. It was therefore a tight call for choosing this week’s featured image, but West Kent narrowly got the verdict on account of a crop of Software and Data HAs with AXA Health in Tunbridge Wells. Nearby Scotney Castle is one of my favourite haunts.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland updates

My first Wales report and my second Scotland report were published at the start of February and I’ll be posting monthly updates from now on, starting later this week. Watch this space! My Northern Ireland data is still too unreliable to report on at this stage, but there has been a little bit of activity there in the past few days and I do hope to publish something in due course.

Having tracked vacancies in the three other home nations since 1st June 2022, my latest running totals are:

  • Scotland472 vacancies at SQF Levels 10/11
  • Wales75 vacancies at Levels 6/7 and 94 at Levels 4/5
  • Northern Ireland: 94 vacancies at Levels 4 to 7 


Since the first COVID ‘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,  Amazing Apprenticeships, LawCareers.net and Civil Service Jobs.

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 20th to 26h February 2023 I recorded:

  • 225 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 210 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies
  • giving a total of 435 for the week

In the 153 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 26th February 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 19,410 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 17,111 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 36,521

The average weekly totals in the 153 weeks since lockdown have been:

  • 126 DAs + 112 HAs = 238 average weekly total

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 36,521 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (9,180)
  • Yorkshire (3,121)
  • West Midlands (2,291)
  • Greater Manchester (1,977)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,585)
  • Hampshire (1,256)
  • Berkshire (1,135)
  • Hertfordshire (885)
  • Surrey (856)
  • Cheshire (740)
  • Derbyshire (732)
  • Nottinghamshire (709)
  • Tyne & Wear (701)
  • Sussex (673)
  • Merseyside (649)
  • Cambridgeshire (638)
  • Essex (607)
  • Lancashire (545)
  • Warwickshire (532)
  • Devon (515)
  • Suffolk (497)
  • Kent (483)
  • Wiltshire (476)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (474)
  • Buckinghamshire (473)
  • Staffordshire (432)
  • Cumbria (431)
  • Dorset (423)
  • Leicestershire (401)
  • Oxfordshire (392)
  • Bedfordshire (391)
  • County Durham (385)
  • Northamptonshire (319)
  • Norfolk (301)
  • Cornwall (284)
  • Worcestershire (267)
  • Lincolnshire (240)
  • Shropshire (232)
  • Isle of Wight (53)
  • Northumberland (48)
  • Herefordshire (39)
  • Rutland (13)
  • Remote-working with no central base (45)
  • 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:
  •   9,180   London (1,078,600: 8.51)
  •   3,776   South West (645,800: 5.85)
  •   3,792   West Midlands (720,900: 5.26)  
  •   5,287   South East (1,040,500: 5.08)
  •   4,339   North West (884,600: 4.91)
  •   3,334   East of England (685,300: 4.87)
  •   3,136   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.68)
  •   2,357   East Midlands (593,700: 3.97)
  •   1,180   North East (313,000: 3.77)
  •      140   Remote-working/Not specified
  • 36,521   Total England (6,633,200: 5.51)

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 19,410 new vacancies spread across 103 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,150pa, with the average being somewhere in the middle (around £20K). The occupational breakdown is as follows:

3,205 Police Constables 

2,242 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,747 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,030 Software Engineers/Developers

1,026 Chartered Business Managers

  775 Civil Engineers

  665 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  626 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  614 Project Managers

  595 Nurses (484 Adult, 86 Mental Health, 20 Learning Disability, 5 Child) 

  434 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

  422 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  418 Design & Development Engineers

  373 Nuclear Engineers  

  333 Supply Chain Leaders

  301 Manufacturing & Production Engineers/Managers

  286 Cyber Security Professionals

  270 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  252 Banking & Financial Services Professionals

  236 Digital Marketing Professionals

  236 Solicitors 

  213 Building Services Engineers 

  201 Sales Professionals

  196 Professional Economists

  188 Laboratory Scientists

  179 Aerospace Engineers

  153 Retail Leaders

  152 Environmental Practitioners

  143 Construction Managers

  130 Network Engineers

  110 Healthcare Science Practitioners (16 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 12 Nuclear Medicine, 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) 

    94 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners

    92 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    85 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    83 Control Engineers   

    82 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals   

    75 Project Controls Professionals

    71 Radiographers (42 Diagnostic, 29 Therapeutic)   

    65 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    59 Occupational Therapists

    55 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers     

    47 Building Control Surveyors

    43 Town Planners

    42 Creative Digital Design Professionals

    42 Podiatrists

    41 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

    40 Packaging Professionals 

    39 Chemical Engineers     

    37 Clinical Trials Specialists

    33 Business Analysts  

    33 Design & Construction Professionals

    33 Human Resources Professionals  

    32 Recruitment Professionals

    31 Transport Planners    

    30 Social Workers 

    29 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    26 Environmental Health Officers

    22 Marketing/Brand Managers

    21 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    20 Architectural Assistants

    20 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    18 Journalists

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    16 Geotechnical Engineers

    15 Fire Safety Engineers

    15 Forestry Professionals

    15 Physiotherapists

    12 Insurance Professionals

    11 Midwives      

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      9 Dietitians

      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 Speech & Language Therapists

      3 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

      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, Control Systems 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 and Continuous Improvement & Automation Specialist.

That’s some list (currently 87).

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 17,111 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: 

1,604 Sales Executives

1,208 Data Analysts

1,205 Software Developers 

1,142 Project Management Associates

1,134 Accounting Technicians

  865 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  529 Construction Site Supervisors

  464 Nursing Associates

  452 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  446 Business Analysts  

  392 Network Engineers

  378 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  366 Taxation Technicians

  331 Software Testers

  318 Cyber Security Technologists

  308 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  271 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  269 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  250 Retail Managers

  248 Buying & Merchandising Assistants

  247 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  245 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)

  218 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  198 Insurance Practitioners  

  188 Technician Scientists

  187 Marketing Executives

  176 Investment Operations Specialists

  176 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  174 DevOps Engineers

  147 Junior Management Consultants

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  144 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  143 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  122 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  108 Human Resources Specialists     

  105 Mineral Products Technicians 

    98 Quality Practitioners

    96 Healthcare Science Associates (29 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 22 Cardiac/Respiratory/Sleep Physiology, 21 Medical Engineering Technicians, 9 Radiography, 6 Genetics Technology, 3 Tissue Retrieval, 2 Medical Physics, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Biomedicine, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering)  

    95 Food Technology/Manufacturing Technicians 

    89 Nuclear Technicians  

    86 Hospitality Managers

    78 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    66 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    62 Financial Paraplanners   

    61 Internal Audit Practitioners

    58 Actuarial Technicians

    53 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    48 Journalists

    47 Brewers 

    41 Operations Managers   

    41 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    39 Dairy Technologists

    37 Automation & Controls Engineers

    37 Railway Engineering Technicians

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    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 Market Research Executives

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    20 Paralegals

    19 Audio Visual Technicians

    17 Countryside Rangers

    15 BEMS Controls Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    14 Land Referencers      

    12 Acoustics Technicians

    12 Applications Support Leads

    12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

    12 Digital Community Managers

    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    

      7 Facilities Managers

      6 Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officers

      6 Digital Accessibility Specialists

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      6 School Business Professionals     

      6 Town Planning Technicians 

      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 Chaplains

      2 Data Protection Practitioners     

      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 Chemical Process Technician

      1 Clinical Coder

      1 Cricket Coach

      1 Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician

      1 Customs & Foreign Exchange Expert

      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, 26/2/2023


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