Week 155: Higher & Degree Apprenticeships overview – another healthy week

Latest reflections in England

It was another positive week for new DA and HA vacancies. Accountancy and Digital careers were prominent again and the Construction sector also remained buoyant, particularly Civil Engineering, Quantity Surveying and Building Services Engineering, with Environmental Practitioners staying in the picture too. On this occasion the figures included a few adjustments and conservative estimates, but erring on the side of caution as always.

Another small development saw Healthcare Science Associate HAs reaching three figures. In total I’ve now recorded 219 vacancies across Level 6 Practitioner and Level 4 Associate roles in Healthcare Science, while NHS occupations in general remain prominent if not prolific. Operating Department Practitioner DAs also reached 100 this week, albeit that they sometimes stretch my criteria close to the limit in terms of the relevant insights or experience they expect. Podiatry has been showing up well too, as has Occupational Therapy, while Dietetics reached double figures after only recently appearing for the first time.

From a regional perspective, the Greater London and Greater Manchester areas were the busiest locations. However, I’ve gone a little offbeat with this week’s featured image on account of there being three new vacancies in leafy Great Malvern in Worcestershire, hence my photo taken during a walk on the Malvern Hills at around this time of year.

Next week I’ll be briefly reflecting on three years of collecting data in England, as the end of Week 156 coincides with the point at which the first COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in March 2020 and I embarked on this labour of love. It’s been an intriguing period within which to track occupational and regional trends in a changing career landscape.   

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland updates

There was also activity in all of the other three home nations this week and I will be publishing further monthly reports on both Scotland and Wales in early-April. 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:

  • Scotland509 vacancies at SQF Levels 10/11
  • Wales78 vacancies at Levels 6/7 and 134 at Levels 4/5
  • Northern Ireland101 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, thereby ironically leaving some vacancies hard to fill).

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 March 2023 I recorded:

  • 260 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 200 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies
  • giving a total of 460 for the week

In the 155 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 12th March 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 19,834 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 17,491 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 37,325

The average weekly totals in the 155 weeks since lockdown have been:

  • 128 DAs + 113 HAs = 241 average weekly total

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 37,325 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (9,365)
  • Yorkshire (3,195)
  • West Midlands (2,337)
  • Greater Manchester (2,055)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,623)
  • Hampshire (1,282)
  • Berkshire (1,174)
  • Hertfordshire (912)
  • Surrey (870)
  • Cheshire (762)
  • Derbyshire (737)
  • Nottinghamshire (728)
  • Tyne & Wear (726)
  • Sussex (685)
  • Merseyside (654)
  • Cambridgeshire (646)
  • Essex (627)
  • Lancashire (548)
  • Warwickshire (536)
  • Devon (523)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (503)
  • Suffolk (501)
  • Wiltshire (499)
  • Kent (489)
  • Buckinghamshire (488)
  • Staffordshire (440)
  • Cumbria (439)
  • Dorset (429)
  • Leicestershire (408)
  • Oxfordshire (399)
  • Bedfordshire (398)
  • County Durham (392)
  • Northamptonshire (325)
  • Norfolk (303)
  • Cornwall (284)
  • Worcestershire (274)
  • Lincolnshire (241)
  • Shropshire (233)
  • Isle of Wight (54)
  • Northumberland (49)
  • 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:
  •   9,365   London (1,078,600: 8.68)
  •   3,880   South West (645,800: 6.01)
  •   3,858   West Midlands (720,900: 5.35)  
  •   5,407   South East (1,040,500: 5.20)
  •   4,455   North West (884,600: 5.04)
  •   3,402   East of England (685,300: 4.96)
  •   3,209   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.78)
  •   2,395   East Midlands (593,700: 4.03)
  •   1,214   North East (313,000: 3.88)
  •      140   Remote-working/Not specified
  • 37,325   Total England (6,633,200: 5.63)

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.

Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7):

In total there have been 19,834 new vacancies spread across 102 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 

2,311 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,800 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,056 Chartered Business Managers

1,037 Software Engineers/Developers

  814 Civil Engineers

  697 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  631 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  617 Project Managers

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

  443 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  433 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  420 Design & Development Engineers

  375 Nuclear Engineers  

  335 Supply Chain Leaders

  290 Cyber Security Professionals

  275 Food & Drink Technologists & Production Managers

  268 Manufacturing Engineers

  252 Banking & Financial Services Professionals

  237 Building Services Engineers 

  237 Digital Marketing Professionals

  237 Solicitors 

  219 Sales Professionals

  198 Professional Economists

  193 Laboratory Scientists

  179 Aerospace Engineers

  163 Environmental Practitioners

  153 Retail Leaders

  146 Construction Managers

  130 Network Engineers

  112 Healthcare Science Practitioners (16 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical 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) 

  100 Hospital Operating Department Practitioners

    97 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

    93 Automation & Control Engineers   

    87 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    82 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals   

    80 Project Controls Professionals

    71 Radiographers (42 Diagnostic, 29 Therapeutic)   

    66 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    61 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers     

    61 Occupational Therapists

    51 Building Control Surveyors

    49 Creative Digital Design Professionals

    49 Podiatrists

    43 Town Planners

    42 Broadcast/Communication/Media Systems Engineers

    40 Manufacturing/Production Managers (non-food)

    40 Packaging Professionals 

    39 Chemical Engineers     

    37 Clinical Trials Specialists

    35 Design & Construction Professionals

    34 Business Analysts  

    34 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    33 Human Resources Professionals  

    32 Recruitment Professionals

    32 Transport Planners    

    31 Social Workers 

    30 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    27 Environmental Health Officers

    22 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    22 Marketing/Brand Managers

    21 Architectural Assistants

    18 Journalists

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    16 Geotechnical Engineers

    16 Physiotherapists

    15 Fire Safety Engineers

    15 Forestry Professionals

    12 Insurance Professionals

    11 Midwives      

    10 Dietitians

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      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 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 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 17,491 new vacancies spread across 144 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,002 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,617 Sales Executives

1,221 Software Developers 

1,220 Data Analysts

1,168 Project Management Associates

1,152 Accounting Technicians

  884 School/Community Sports Coaches    

  549 Construction Site Supervisors

  475 Nursing Associates

  458 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  457 Business Analysts  

  406 Network Engineers

  382 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  367 Taxation Technicians

  339 Software Testers

  338 Cyber Security Technologists

  321 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  274 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  273 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  265 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  250 Retail Managers

  248 Buying & Merchandising Assistants

  247 Building Services Engineering Technicians

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

  221 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

  198 Insurance Practitioners  

  189 Marketing Executives

  189 Technician Scientists

  179 Investment Operations Specialists

  178 DevOps Engineers

  176 Policy Officers (Central/Local Government)

  151 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  148 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  148 Junior Management Consultants

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  143 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  114 Mineral Products Technicians 

  112 Human Resources Specialists     

  107 Healthcare Science Associates (32 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 27 Medical Engineering Technicians, 22 Cardiac & Respiratory/Sleep Physiology, 9 Radiography, 6 Genetics, 3 Tissue Retrieval, 2 Medical Physics, 2 Phlebotomy, 1 Biochemistry, 1 Biomedicine, 1 Neurophysiology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering)  

  101 Quality Practitioners

    95 Food Technology/Manufacturing Technicians 

    90 Nuclear Technicians  

    87 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    87 Hospitality Managers

    76 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    66 Internal Audit Practitioners

    62 Financial Paraplanners   

    58 Actuarial Technicians

    55 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    50 Brewers 

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    48 Journalists

    42 Railway Engineering Technicians

    41 Operations Managers   

    41 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    40 Automation & Controls Engineers

    39 Dairy Technologists

    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

    28 Information Managers    

    26 Market Research Executives

    24 Engineer Surveyors

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    20 Audiovisual Technicians

    20 Paralegals

    19 Acoustics 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

      8 Electro-Mechanical Maintenance Technicians

      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 Payroll Assistant Managers

      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 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 weekly updates, usually on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

© Alan Bullock Careers, 12/3/2023


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