Analysis of Higher & Degree Apprenticeships in Wales: March 2023 update

Latest reflections in Wales

From now on I’m aiming to publish updates early each month that give a statistical summary of degree and higher apprenticeship vacancies in Wales. This March analysis is the second report I’ve published on Wales and it covers the nine-month period from 1/6/2022 (when I started recording vacancies) to 3/3/2023.

New vacancies in the past month came in a steady trickle, up until the very last minute when 27 HAs in Civil Engineering and Quantity Surveying were posted by the Welsh Apprenticeship Alliance. The locations for these are ‘across Wales’ and therefore unspecified, but they took the total number up to a decent 197. It’s early days and my cumulative data will still be somewhat flawed, but I think an interesting picture is starting to emerge and I’m intrigued to see how it evolves from here.

At present the data reflects a similar kind of occupational breakdown to the ones I’ve found in England and Scotland, with Digital careers being especially predominant and Finance, Engineering and the Built Environment quite strong too. The Construction sector was boosted further by the 27 new vacancies that popped up at the last minute. I haven’t yet seen any evidence of opportunities in the Medical/Healthcare sector, but two other positive and quite intriguing features have been the presence of several apprenticeships in the Media and Creative Arts alongside two separate vacancies for Welsh Language Translators.  

The Media and Creative Arts presence interests me because I haven’t seen much evidence of higher level apprenticeships in these fields in the rest of the UK, despite the UK’s prominent standing in the sector internationally. In recent years Wales has struck me as something of a  creative hub and I wonder if this is a pattern that might emerge, or will it just prove to be little more than a flash in the pan? Watch this space!

My reports always come with a featured image, usually from my own photo collection and sometimes with an offbeat theme. With Tata Steel posting vacancies at both Port Talbot and Llanwern, this month’s image is a photo I took of the Port Talbot plant from across Swansea Bay in October 2019.       


I originally started recording post-18 apprenticeships vacancies, but only in England, when the country first locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. That summer I began publishing weekly statistical updates and have been doing so consistently ever since. Then on 1st June 2022 I also started recording vacancies in the other three home nations with a view to reporting on them too once I’d collated enough useful data.    

For Wales I keep a record of all new DA and HA vacancies that I spot in my regular 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.

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. 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 cautious way.

Headline data

In the 9-month period from 1st June 2022 to 1st March 2023 I recorded:

  • 76 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies (Levels 6/7) and
  • 121 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 197
  • of which 4 required applicants to be fluent Welsh speakers

Analysis by occupation

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 76 new vacancies spread across 22 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:

13 Software Engineers/Developers

  8 Data Scientists

  8 Digital Technology Solutions (general)

  6 Accountants & Audit Specialists  

  6 Manufacturing & Production Engineers

  5 Tax Specialists

  4 Electrical & Electronic Engineers

  3 Cyber Security Professionals

  3 Design & Development Engineers

  3 Economists

  2 Aerospace Engineers

  2 Business Managers

  2 Civil Engineers

  2 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Specialists

  2 Retail Leaders

  1 Construction Manager

  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 121 new vacancies spread across 33 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £9,380 to a whopping £31,393, with the average being around £16,000. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

24 Civil Engineering Technicians

12 Electrical & Electronic Engineering Technicians

10 Accounting Technicians

10 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  8 Quantity Surveying Technicians

  7 Project Management Associates

  6 Junior Animators

  5 Technician Scientists

  4 Data Analysts

  3 Junior Management Consultants

  3 Software Developers

  2 Digital News Journalists

  2 IT Business Specialists

  2 Hospitality Managers

  2 Materials Technicians

  2 Retail Managers

  2 Supply Chain Specialists

  2 Welsh Language Translators

  1 Armourer

  1 Broadcasting Technical Operator

  1 Building Physics Technician

  1 Building Services Engineering Technician

  1 Business Administrator

  1 Business Analyst

  1 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioner

  1 Digital Marketing Executive

  1 Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technician

  1 Facilities Manager

  1 Health & Safety Practitioner

  1 Media Production Co-ordinator

  1 Radio & Television Journalist

  1 Railway Engineering Technician

  1 Regulatory Compliance Officer

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.

Breakdown by town/city

  • 55 Cardiff (Cardiff)
  • 17 Deeside (Flintshire)
  • 15 Port Talbot (Neath Port Talbot)
  • 11 Newport (Newport)
  • 10 Glascoed (Monmouthshire)
  •   9 Llanwern (Newport)  
  •   9 Swansea (Swansea)
  •   6 Bridgend (Bridgend)
  •   4 Caernarfon (Gwynedd)
  •   4 Pontypridd (Rhondda Cynon Taf)
  •   3 Llanelli (Carmarthenshire)
  •   3 Miskin (Rhondda Cynon Taf)
  •   2 Aberporth (Ceredigion)
  •   2 Brecon (Powys)
  •   2 Carmarthen (Carmarthenshire)
  •   2 Llandudno Junction (Conwy)
  •   2 St Asaph (Denbighshire)
  •   2 Wrexham (Wrexham)
  •   1 Bangor (Gwynedd)
  •   1 Church Village (Rhondda Cynon Taf)
  •   1 Conwy (Conwy)
  •   1 Cwmbran (Torfaen)
  •   1 Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire)
  •   1 Hengoed (Caerphilly)
  •   1 Nantgarw (Rhonnda Cynon Taf)
  •   1 Pendine (Carmarthenshire)
  •   1 Pontllanfraith (Caerphilly)
  •   1 Rhyl (Denbighshire)
  •   1 Tondu (Bridgend)
  •   1 Remote-working
  • 27 Unspecified across Wales

Breakdown by region (county boroughs) 

  •   55 Cardiff   
  •   20 Newport
  •   17 Flintshire
  •   15 Neath Port Talbot
  •   10 Monmouthshire
  •     9 Rhondda Cynon Taf
  •     9 Swansea
  •     7 Bridgend
  •     6 Carmarthenshire
  •     5 Gwynedd
  •     3 Conwy
  •     3 Denbighshire
  •     2 Caerphilly
  •     2 Ceredigion
  •     2 Powys
  •     2 Wrexham
  •     1 Pembrokeshire
  •     1 Torfaen
  •     0 Blaenau Gwent
  •     0 Isle of Anglesey
  •     0 Merthyr Tydfil
  •     0 Vale of Glamorgan
  •     1 Remote-working
  •   27 Unspecified across Wales

I’m secretly willing the four county boroughs with no vacancies to get on the scoresheet soon, besides which they may well feature amongst those vacancies with an ‘Unspecified’ location.

Going forward

All being well I aim to publish another update in early-April.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 5/3/2023

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