Week 154: Higher & Degree Apprenticeships overview – another solid week

Latest reflections in England

To help celebrate National Careers Week I’m publishing four separate blogposts tonight as free resources, including new reports on Scotland and Wales and a re-issue of my UCAS Personal Statement articles.

In view of that I won’t go into detail about this week’s developments in England, but it’s been a very solid week with a further 344 new DA and HA vacancies recorded across a range of occupations. I think my cumulative data below tells an increasingly intriguing story for anyone who cares to skim through the figures.

Somerset was particularly noticeable for punching above its weight this week and I’ve picked out one of my more offbeat photos of the county as my featured image. It’s Devonshire Tunnel, part of the much-lamented Somerset & Dorset Railway and re-opened for walkers and cyclists.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland updates

I’m publishing my second report on Wales and my third on Scotland on my blog this evening, simultaneously with this latest England report. My Northern Ireland data is still too unreliable to report on at this stage, but I’m working on that too.

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

  • Scotland496 vacancies at SQF Levels 10/11
  • Wales76 vacancies at Levels 6/7 and 121 at Levels 4/5
  • Northern Ireland94 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 27th February to 5th March 2023 I recorded:

  • 164 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 180 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies
  • giving a total of 344 for the week

In the 154 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 5th March 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 19,574 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 17,291 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 36,865

The average weekly totals in the 154 weeks since lockdown have been:

  • 127 DAs + 112 HAs = 239 average weekly total

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 36,865 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (9,220)
  • Yorkshire (3,157)
  • West Midlands (2,311)
  • Greater Manchester (2,005)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,598)
  • Hampshire (1,266)
  • Berkshire (1,153)
  • Hertfordshire (902)
  • Surrey (864)
  • Cheshire (752)
  • Derbyshire (733)
  • Nottinghamshire (720)
  • Tyne & Wear (717)
  • Sussex (677)
  • Merseyside (652)
  • Cambridgeshire (644)
  • Essex (611)
  • Lancashire (545)
  • Warwickshire (536)
  • Devon (523)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (500)
  • Suffolk (499)
  • Wiltshire (494)
  • Kent (486)
  • Buckinghamshire (483)
  • Staffordshire (435)
  • Cumbria (432)
  • Dorset (426)
  • Leicestershire (404)
  • Oxfordshire (397)
  • Bedfordshire (393)
  • County Durham (388)
  • Northamptonshire (320)
  • Norfolk (301)
  • Cornwall (284)
  • Worcestershire (271)
  • Lincolnshire (240)
  • Shropshire (233)
  • 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:
  •   9,220   London (1,078,600: 8.55)
  •   3,844   South West (645,800: 5.95)
  •   3,824   West Midlands (720,900: 5.30)  
  •   5,345   South East (1,040,500: 5.14)
  •   4,383   North West (884,600: 4.95)
  •   3,365   East of England (685,300: 4.91)
  •   3,172   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.73)
  •   2,373   East Midlands (593,700: 4.00)
  •   1,199   North East (313,000: 3.83)
  •      140   Remote-working/Not specified
  • 36,865   Total England (6,633,200: 5.56)

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 19,574 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 

2,243 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,770 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,050 Chartered Business Managers

1,033 Software Engineers/Developers

  792 Civil Engineers

  683 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  628 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  615 Project Managers

  596 Nurses (484 Adult, 86 Mental Health, 20 Learning Disability, 6 Child) 

  436 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

  431 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  420 Design & Development Engineers

  373 Nuclear Engineers  

  334 Supply Chain Leaders

  305 Manufacturing & Production Engineers/Managers

  290 Cyber Security Professionals

  270 Food & Drink Technologists/Manufacturers

  252 Banking & Financial Services Professionals

  237 Solicitors 

  236 Digital Marketing Professionals

  223 Building Services Engineers 

  202 Sales Professionals

  196 Professional Economists

  188 Laboratory Scientists

  179 Aerospace Engineers

  158 Environmental Practitioners

  153 Retail Leaders

  145 Construction Managers

  130 Network Engineers

  112 Healthcare Science Practitioners (16 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical & Clinical Engineering, 12 Nuclear Medicine, 10 Neurophysiology, 10 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 10 Respiratory Physiology & Sleep Science, 9 Audiology, 8 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 2 Medical Physics Technology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist) 

    94 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners

    93 Automation & Control Engineers   

    92 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    85 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    82 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals   

    75 Project Controls Professionals

    71 Radiographers (42 Diagnostic, 29 Therapeutic)   

    65 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    61 Occupational Therapists

    55 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers     

    49 Creative Digital Design Professionals

    48 Podiatrists

    47 Building Control Surveyors

    43 Town Planners

    42 Broadcast/Communication/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 Social Workers 

    31 Transport Planners    

    30 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    26 Environmental Health Officers

    22 Marketing/Brand Managers

    21 Architectural Assistants

    21 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    20 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    18 Journalists

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    16 Geotechnical Engineers

    16 Physiotherapists

    15 Fire Safety Engineers

    15 Forestry Professionals

    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 17,291 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: 

1,610 Sales Executives

1,216 Data Analysts

1,212 Software Developers 

1,159 Project Management Associates

1,135 Accounting Technicians

  867 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  541 Construction Site Supervisors

  474 Nursing Associates

  454 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  448 Business Analysts  

  396 Network Engineers

  380 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  367 Taxation Technicians

  337 Software Testers

  332 Cyber Security Technologists

  316 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  272 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  271 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)

  221 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  198 Insurance Practitioners  

  189 Technician Scientists

  188 Marketing Executives

  179 Investment Operations Specialists

  176 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  175 DevOps Engineers

  148 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  147 Junior Management Consultants

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  144 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  143 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  114 Mineral Products Technicians 

  109 Human Resources Specialists     

    99 Quality Practitioners

    97 Healthcare Science Associates (30 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  

    87 Hospitality Managers

    85 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    66 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    62 Financial Paraplanners   

    61 Internal Audit Practitioners

    58 Actuarial Technicians

    55 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    49 Brewers 

    48 Journalists

    41 Operations Managers   

    41 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    39 Dairy Technologists

    38 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 Acoustics Technicians

    19 Audio Visual Technicians

    17 Applications Support Leads

    17 Countryside Rangers

    15 BEMS Controls Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    15 Land Referencers      

    15 Smart Energy Engineers

    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 Dental Technicians

      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 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 Data Protection Practitioners     

      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 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, 5/3/2023


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