Week 157: Higher & Degree Apprenticeships overview – DAs reach 20,000

Latest reflections on the situation in England

Week 157 saw my cumulative degree apprenticeship total pass the 20,000 mark and there was also an interesting mixed bag of new DA and HA vacancies. Prominent occupations included Learning Disability Nurses, Sports Coaches (working with children and young people), Data Analysts, Automation & Controls Technicians and Nursing Associates.

Regionally, Devon (again) and Wiltshire both punched above their weight as did the East Midlands, with Derbyshire and Leicestershire prominent and Notts and Northants also popping up. Elsewhere Greater Manchester, Sussex and Essex saw some action too and as ever Greater London was busy especially around its southern and south eastern periphery. Not for the first time Croydon was something of a hub and, with neighbouring Beckenham also getting in on the act this week, I found a very appropriate photo in my collection to use as my featured image. It’s another tram, this time in a Croydon street.

The steady growth of apprenticeships in Health professions was another feature this week and, whilst not prolific, they continue to be a significant source of new vacancies across a range of occupations, specialisms and locations. However, I think it’s worth repeating the point that they sometimes stretch my criteria to the limit in the extent to which at least a few months’ work experience may be either necessary or desirable. That said, if in doubt I do tend to count them in because I’ve frequently met 18 and 19-year-olds with a combination of academic, vocational and/or life experience that would enable them to make a very competitive application.  

There were also a further five Environmental Practitioner DAs and this continues to be a field that I’ve found to be something of a revelation. In my occupational listings I record Environmental Health Officers separately as my perception is that this is a distinct field in its own right. But if I added them in it would take the overall total of Environmental Practitioner vacancies up to 195 and put them in my top 25 DA occupations. At the same time HA vacancies for Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners continue to trickle in too and have now reached 90.      

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland updates

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

  • Scotland530 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 

I will be publishing my next 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.


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 especially Not Going to Uni, Rate My Apprenticeship and NHS 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 20th to 26th March 2023 I recorded:

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

In the 157 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 26th March 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 20,056 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 17,769 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 37,825

The average weekly totals in the 157 weeks since lockdown have been:

  • 128 DAs + 113 HAs = 241 average weekly total

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 37,825 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (9,464)
  • Yorkshire (3,226)
  • West Midlands (2,358)
  • Greater Manchester (2,083)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,641)
  • Hampshire (1,312)
  • Berkshire (1,177)
  • Hertfordshire (915)
  • Surrey (881)
  • Cheshire (771)
  • Derbyshire (747)
  • Nottinghamshire (737)
  • Tyne & Wear (733)
  • Sussex (705)
  • Cambridgeshire (659)
  • Merseyside (655)
  • Essex (636)
  • Devon (566)
  • Lancashire (553)
  • Warwickshire (542)
  • Wiltshire (512)
  • Suffolk (509)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (506)
  • Kent (497)
  • Buckinghamshire (493)
  • Cumbria (446)
  • Dorset (442)
  • Staffordshire (441)
  • Leicestershire (420)
  • Oxfordshire (408)
  • Bedfordshire (398)
  • County Durham (392)
  • Northamptonshire (333)
  • Norfolk (303)
  • Cornwall (285)
  • Worcestershire (278)
  • Lincolnshire (247)
  • Shropshire (234)
  • Isle of Wight (54)
  • Northumberland (50)
  • Herefordshire (39)
  • Rutland (13)
  • Remote-working with no central base (46)
  • Not specified (118) 

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:
  •   9,464   London (1,078,600: 8.77)
  •   3,971   South West (645,800: 6.15)
  •   3,891   West Midlands (720,900: 5.40)  
  •   5,493   South East (1,040,500: 5.28)
  •   4,505   North West (884,600: 5.09)
  •   3,435   East of England (685,300: 5.01)
  •   3,241   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 4.83)
  •   2,438   East Midlands (593,700: 4.11)
  •   1,223   North East (313,000: 3.91)
  •      164   Remote-working/Not specified
  • 37,825   Total England (6,633,200: 5.70)

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

Every week I update my occupational analysis, breaking the vacancies down into what I loosely define as ‘occupational areas’. In some cases these differ from the official apprenticeship standards terminology. For each occupational area the total number of vacancies since March 2020 are given below for both degree and higher apprenticeships.

Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7):

In total there have been 20,056 new vacancies spread across 120 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,150pa, with the average being somewhere in the middle (around £19K). The occupational breakdown is as follows:

3,205 Police Constables 

2,315 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,809 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,085 Chartered Business Managers

1,046 Software Engineers/Developers

  839 Civil Engineers

  708 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  636 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  626 Project Managers

  612 Nurses (485 Adult, 91 Mental Health, 30 Learning Disability, 6 Child) 

  446 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  438 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  426 Design & Development Engineers

  380 Nuclear Engineers  

  335 Supply Chain Leaders

  293 Cyber Security Professionals

  277 Food & Drink Technologists / Production Managers

  268 Manufacturing Engineers

  256 Banking & Financial Services Professionals

  244 Digital Marketing Professionals

  239 Building Services Engineers 

  237 Solicitors 

  221 Sales Professionals

  199 Professional Economists

  195 Laboratory Scientists

  179 Aerospace Engineers

  168 Environmental Practitioners

  153 Retail Leaders

  146 Construction Managers

  130 Network Engineers

  114 Healthcare Science Practitioners (17 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical Engineering, 12 Nuclear Medicine, 11 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 10 Neurophysiology, 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) 

  103 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  101 Operating Department Practitioners (NHS)

    93 Automation & Control Engineers   

    93 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

    64 Occupational Therapists

    61 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers     

    52 Creative Digital Design Professionals

    51 Building Control Surveyors

    50 Podiatrists

    45 Clinical Trials Specialists

    43 Broadcast/Communication/Media Systems Engineers

    43 Town Planners

    40 Manufacturing/Production Managers (non-food)

    40 Packaging Professionals 

    39 Chemical Engineers     

    36 Social Workers 

    35 Design & Construction Professionals

    34 Business Analysts  

    34 Chartered Rural Surveyors / Land Agents

    34 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    33 Human Resources Professionals  

    32 Recruitment Professionals

    32 Transport Planners    

    27 Environmental Health Officers

    23 Architectural Assistants

    22 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    22 Marketing/Brand Managers

    19 Geotechnical Engineers

    18 Insurance Professionals

    18 Journalists

    18 Public Health Practitioners

    17 Physiotherapists

    15 Fire Safety Engineers

    15 Forestry Professionals

    11 Midwives      

    10 Dietitians

      9 Business Managers (Social Change)

      9 Propulsion Engineers

      8 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

      8 Gas Transmission Engineers

      7 Land Buyers

      6 Actuarial Professionals

      6 Sport Development Officers

      5 Chartered Legal Executives   

      5 Operations Analysts

      5 Speech & Language Therapists

      4 Assistant Buyers

      4 Assistant Teachers / Learning Coaches

      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:   

IT Consultant, Software Engineer, Data Analyst, Cyber Security Specialist, Software Developer, Software Tester, Network Engineer, Data Scientist, Global Data Analyst, Data Product Specialist, Data Architect, Network Architect, Enterprise Architect, Digital Solutions Architect, Technology Architect, Solutions Consultant, Software Implementation Consultant, Software Consultant, Technical Consultant, Functional Consultant, Business Consultant, Project Manager, Project Co-ordinator, Business Intelligence (BI) Developer, Business Systems Developer, Automation Developer, Automation Test Developer, Full Stack Developer, Digital Developer, Prototype Developer, Technology Manager, Legal Technologist, 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, Business Systems Engineer, Automation Engineer, IT Support Engineer, Technical 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 91) and it’s still growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 17,769 new vacancies spread across 160 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,002 to £35,000pa (the average being around £17K). The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,638 Sales Executives

1,250 Data Analysts

1,235 Software Developers 

1,181 Project Management Associates

1,159 Accounting Technicians

  905 Sports Coaches (Children & Young People)   

  559 Construction Site Supervisors

  498 Nursing Associates

  467 Business Analysts  

  464 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  408 Network Engineers

  383 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  367 Taxation Technicians

  343 Cyber Security Technologists

  341 Software Testers

  324 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  278 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  277 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  266 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  254 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  252 Buying & Merchandising Assistants

  250 Retail Managers

  225 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

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

  201 Insurance Practitioners  

  196 Technician Scientists

  194 Marketing Executives

  189 DevOps Engineers

  187 Investment Operations Specialists

  177 Policy Practitioners

  156 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  148 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  148 Junior Management Consultants

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  143 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  114 Human Resources Specialists     

  114 Mineral Products Technicians 

  108 Healthcare Science Associates (32 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 28 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 

    91 Nuclear Technicians  

    90 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    87 Hospitality Managers

    77 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    66 Internal Audit Practitioners

    63 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    62 Actuarial Technicians

    55 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    51 Brewers 

    50 Automation & Controls Technicians

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    48 Journalists

    43 Dairy Technologists

    43 Operations Managers   

    43 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    42 Railway Engineering Technicians

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    34 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    34 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    29 Information Managers    

    29 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    28 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    27 Market Research Executives

    24 Engineer Surveyors

    24 Police Community Support Officers

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    23 Paralegals

    20 Audiovisual Technicians

    19 Acoustics Technicians

    19 Countryside Rangers

    18 Applications Support Leads

    17 Land Referencers      

    15 BEMS Controls Engineers (Building Energy Management Systems)

    15 Fibre Cable Engineers

    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 Engineering Maintenance Technicians

      9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

      9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      7 Facilities Managers

      7 School Business Professionals     

      6 Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officers

      6 Dental Technicians

      6 Digital Accessibility Specialists

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      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 Padel Coaches

      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 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 or fortnightly updates, usually on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.   

© Alan Bullock Careers, 26/3/2023


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