Week 160: Higher & Degree Apprenticeships overview – hundreds of new vacancies during the Easter vacation

Latest reflections on the situation in England

The two-week Easter vacation period was considerably busier than I expected and I crunched a total of 665 new vacancies to update my cumulative occupational and regional totals. In some cases precise numbers were open to interpretation, but I think my overall representation is realistic.

Occupationally the big winners were Police Community Support Officers, Railway & Rail Systems Engineers, Accountants & Accounts Technicians, Civil Engineers (yet again), Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers, Manufacturing Engineering Technicians and Building Services Engineers.

From a regional perspective Yorkshire was the big hotspot and accounted for 23% of new vacancies. The East Midlands and North West were also buoyant, while Cambridgeshire and Devon noticeably punched above their weight.

With Network Rail being one of the most prominent employers across the two weeks, I’ve picked out a piece of railway infrastructure from my photo collection as this week’s featured image (taken safely from a level crossing).

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 as follows, with Scotland in particular showing up well over the Easter period:

  • Scotland557 vacancies at SQF Levels 10/11
  • Wales79 vacancies at Levels 6/7 and 138 at Levels 4/5
  • Northern Ireland102 vacancies at Levels 4 to 7 

I now intend to publish new Scotland and Wales updates at the end of May, reflecting on a full year of vacancies. I also hope to publish some Northern Ireland reflections in due course, once I have enough reliable data.


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, I think the analyses I’ve built up still 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 two-week period from 3rd to 16th April 2023 I recorded:

  • 322 new Degree & L7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 343 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies
  • giving a total of 665 for the two weeks

In the 160 weeks since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 16th April 2023) I’ve now recorded:

  • 20,462 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 18,327 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 38,789

The average weekly totals in the 160 weeks since lockdown have been:

  • 128 DAs + 114 HAs = 242 average weekly total

Updated analysis by county and region

By county (loosely defined), the 38,789 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (9,646)
  • Yorkshire (3,421)
  • West Midlands (2,424)
  • Greater Manchester (2,178)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (1,675)
  • Hampshire (1,327)
  • Berkshire (1,197)
  • Hertfordshire (924)
  • Surrey (886)
  • Cheshire (794)
  • Derbyshire (784)
  • Nottinghamshire (758)
  • Tyne & Wear (749)
  • Sussex (713)
  • Cambridgeshire (691)
  • Merseyside (661)
  • Essex (640)
  • Devon (610)
  • Lancashire (554)
  • Warwickshire (548)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (523)
  • Wiltshire (515)
  • Suffolk (512)
  • Buckinghamshire (501)
  • Kent (500)
  • Cumbria (455)
  • Staffordshire (451)
  • Leicestershire (448)
  • Dorset (448)
  • Oxfordshire (427)
  • Bedfordshire (401)
  • County Durham (396)
  • Northamptonshire (343)
  • Norfolk (305)
  • Cornwall (287)
  • Worcestershire (280)
  • Lincolnshire (258)
  • Shropshire (234)
  • Northumberland (54)
  • Isle of Wight (54)
  • Herefordshire (39)
  • Rutland (13)
  • Remote-working with no central base (47)
  • 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:
  •   9,646   London (1,078,600: 8.94)
  •   4,077   South West (645,800: 6.31)
  •   3,975   West Midlands (720,900: 5.51)  
  •   5,571   South East (1,040,500: 5.35)
  •   4,639   North West (884,600: 5.24)
  •   3,439   Yorkshire & Humber (670,800: 5.13)
  •   3,488   East of England (685,300: 5.09)
  •   2,540   East Midlands (593,700: 4.28)
  •   1,249   North East (313,000: 3.99)
  •      165   Remote-working/Not specified
  • 38,789   Total England (6,633,200: 5.85)

Whilst my data is always going to have flaws in it, I think the above comparisons nonetheless reflect some intriguing regional differences.   

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 20,462 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 

2,388 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

1,826 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

1,103 Chartered Business Managers

1,049 Software Engineers/Developers

  895 Civil Engineers

  744 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  650 Project Managers

  645 Data Scientists/Analysts/Engineers

  618 Nurses (486 Adult, 96 Mental Health, 30 Learning Disability, 6 Child) 

  449 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  444 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  429 Design & Development Engineers

  384 Nuclear Engineers  

  335 Supply Chain Leaders

  296 Cyber Security Professionals

  281 Food & Drink Technologists / Production Managers

  268 Manufacturing Engineers

  264 Banking & Financial Services Professionals

  264 Building Services Engineers 

  246 Digital Marketing Professionals

  242 Solicitors 

  221 Sales Professionals

  199 Professional Economists

  196 Laboratory Scientists

  179 Aerospace Engineers

  176 Environmental Practitioners

  153 Retail Leaders

  147 Construction Site Managers

  142 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  130 Network Engineers

  117 Healthcare Science Practitioners (17 Cardiac Physiology, 13 Biomedical Science, 12 Medical Engineering, 12 Nuclear Medicine, 11 Radiation & Radiotherapy Physics, 11 Respiratory & Sleep Physiology, 10 Neurophysiology, 10 Radiation & Radiotherapy Engineering, 9 Audiology, 5 Digital Healthcare Science, 3 Bioinformatics, 2 Medical Physics Technology, 1 Rehabilitation Engineering, 1 Renal Specialist) 

  106 Operating Department Practitioners (NHS)

    94 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    93 Automation & Control Engineers   

    86 Project Controls Professionals

    82 Digital User Experience (UX) Design Professionals   

    71 Occupational Therapists

    71 Radiographers (42 Diagnostic, 29 Therapeutic)    

    66 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    63 Materials Science Technologists/Engineers     

    57 Creative Digital Design Professionals

    52 Podiatrists

    51 Building Control Surveyors

    46 Town Planners

    45 Clinical Trials Specialists

    44 Broadcast/Communication/Media Systems Engineers

    42 Social Workers 

    40 Manufacturing/Production Managers (non-food)

    40 Packaging Professionals 

    39 Chemical Engineers     

    36 Design & Construction Professionals

    35 Chartered Rural Surveyors / Land Agents

    34 Business Analysts  

    34 Human Resources Professionals  

    34 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    32 Recruitment Professionals

    32 Transport Planners    

    28 Environmental Health Officers

    23 Architectural Assistants

    23 Geotechnical Engineers

    22 GIS / Geospatial Mapping & Surveying Professionals

    22 Marketing/Brand Managers

    19 Public Health Practitioners

    18 Insurance Professionals

    18 Journalists

    18 Physiotherapists

    16 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, Digital Social Media Executive, 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 92) and it’s still growing.

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 18,327 new vacancies spread across 160 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,002 to £35,000pa (the average being around £17K, except for Sports Coaches which are usually around £10K or lower). The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

1,657 Sales Executives

1,273 Data Analysts

1,258 Software Developers 

1,205 Project Management Associates

1,191 Accounting Technicians

  924 Sports Coaches (Children & Young People)   

  564 Construction Site Supervisors

  523 Nursing Associates

  492 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  480 Business Analysts  

  419 Network Engineers

  387 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  370 Taxation Technicians

  344 Cyber Security Technologists

  344 Software Testers

  334 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  327 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  281 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

  267 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  261 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  254 Buying & Merchandising Assistants

  250 Retail Managers

  230 Children/Youth/Family Practitioners

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

  209 Investment Operations Specialists

  201 Insurance Practitioners  

  197 Technician Scientists

  196 Marketing Executives

  195 DevOps Engineers

  185 Policy Practitioners

  158 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  151 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  151 Junior Management Consultants

  150 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  144 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  126 Human Resources Specialists     

  115 Mineral Products Technicians 

  114 Police Community Support Officers

  109 Healthcare Science Associates (32 Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers, 29 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)

  102 Quality Practitioners

    95 Food Technology/Manufacturing Technicians 

    94 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners  

    94 Nuclear Technicians  

    87 Hospitality Managers

    84 Railway Engineering Technicians

    76 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

    72 Recruitment Consultants

    68 Internal Audit Practitioners

    64 Actuarial Technicians

    63 Financial Advisers/Paraplanners   

    57 Vehicle Damage Assessors     

    54 Brewers 

    52 Adult Social Care Lead Practitioners       

    52 Automation & Controls Technicians

    49 Intelligence Analysts

    48 Journalists

    44 Operations Managers   

    44 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    43 Dairy Technologists

    38 Learning/Skills & Development Practitioners

    37 TV/Media Production Co-ordinators

    34 Business Improvement Practitioners 

    30 Information Managers    

    29 Applications Support Leads

    29 Market Research Executives

    29 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    28 Housing/Property/Lettings Managers

    24 Engineer Surveyors

    23 Estate Agency Negotiators

    23 Paralegals

    22 Audiovisual Technicians

    19 Acoustics Technicians

    19 Countryside Rangers

    18 Land Referencers 

    17 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

      8 Counter Fraud Investigators    

      8 Facilities Managers

      7 Computer Games Developers

      7 Digital Accessibility Specialists

      7 School Business Professionals     

      6 Antisocial Behaviour & Community Safety Officers

      6 Dental Technicians

      6 Fire Safety Inspectors

      6 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

      6 Town Planning Technicians 

      5 Architectural Technicians

      5 Asset Managers

      5 Broadcasting Technical Operators

      5 Visual Merchandisers

      4 Aircraft Certifying Technicians

      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, 16/4/2023


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