14 weeks after the start of ‘lockdown’: new update on the impact of COVID-19 on Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England, with regional analysis

Better news this week

Every Monday since mid-May I’ve been sharing my weekly reflections on the impact COVID-19 has had on the volume of new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies in England. I also now include a regional analysis that shows the location, by county and region, of all 587 vacancies recorded since ‘lockdown’ started on 23rd March, as well as a breakdown by occupational area.  

My objective has been to compare the number of new vacancies advertised in England since 23rd March with the numbers for the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown. The data I collect is generally although not exclusively sourced from vacancies advertised nationally on the government ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website. I exclude any vacancies that I perceive as not being appropriate for an 18-year-old school or college leaver.

Some of the students I work with have said they’ve been finding the information very helpful (or ‘incredibly useful’ as one said yesterday), albeit that the statistics provide a sketch rather than a fully valid set of data.  

Headline figures

During the latest week, from 22nd to 26th June, I recorded:

  • 21 new degree apprenticeship vacancies
  • 30 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

With apologies to my regular readers, I have found a significant error in last week’s calculations, but it means that the picture is not as bad as I painted last Monday. The following is an amended and I think reliable comparison of the period pre- and post-lockdown:

In the 14 weeks immediately prior to ‘lockdown’ (16th December to 20th March) I recorded:

  • 1,224 new degree apprenticeships and 966 new higher apprenticeships giving a total of 2,190 and an average of 156 new vacancies each week.

In the 14 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 26th June) I have recorded:

  • 318 new degree apprenticeships and 269 new higher apprenticeships giving a total of 587 and an average of 42 new vacancies each week.

This represents a 73.2% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. This is still rather stark, but it’s better than any previous week.  

Regional analysis

The 587 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown were distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (103)
  • Hertfordshire (45)
  • Yorkshire (43)
  • Surrey (43)
  • Essex (33)
  • Hampshire (33)
  • Greater Manchester (30)
  • West Midlands (21)
  • Suffolk (20)
  • Tyne & Wear (16)
  • Nottinghamshire (16)
  • Lancashire (14)
  • Cheshire (13)
  • Berkshire (13)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Devon (12)
  • Bristol (11)
  • Bedfordshire (10)
  • Oxfordshire (9)
  • Gloucestershire (9)
  • Sussex (9)
  • Kent (8)
  • Derbyshire (7)
  • Leicestershire (7)
  • Warwickshire (7)
  • Cambridgeshire (6)
  • Somerset (5)
  • Cumbria (4)
  • Shropshire (4)
  • Staffordshire (4)
  • Norfolk (3)
  • Northamptonshire (3)
  • Worcestershire (3)
  • Cornwall (3)
  • Durham (2)*
  • Buckinghamshire (2)
  • Lincolnshire (1)
  • Herefordshire (1)
  • Wiltshire (1)
  • Dorset (1)
  • Northumberland (0)
  • Isle of Wight (0)

With one vacancy in Swindon last week, Wiltshire is now added to the list leaving Northumberland and the Isle of Wight as the only areas yet to record a vacancy.

This is how those stats add up in regional terms. In brackets I have also given the total population of each region, in millions, to put the apprenticeship figures into perspective:

  • 117 East of England (6.2)
  • 117 South East (9.1)
  • 103 London (8.9)
  • 73 North West (7.3)
  • 43 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 42 South West (5.6)
  • 40 West Midlands (5.9)
  • 34 East Midlands (4.8)
  • 18 North East* (2.7)

As before I have asterisked Durham and the North East because of Durham Constabulary’s Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, which wasn’t advertised nationally but which could have made a significant difference.

Updated occupational ‘league tables’

Each week I update my occupational league tables as a way of recording the number of new vacancies in England broken down by what I loosely term ‘occupational areas’, which I find more useful in guidance rather than just using the official apprenticeship standard terminology. Together I think the two league tables provide useful insights into the kinds of professional jobs that are prominent and emerging.

Since lockdown, the occupational areas represented in each category are now as follows (starting with the highest):

Degree & Level 7 apprenticeships:

In total there have been 318 new vacancies spread across 30 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £8,092 to £25,833pa.   

1st Digital Technology Solutions* (current total = 79)

2nd Accountancy or Taxation

3rd Financial Services

4th Electrical/Electronic Engineers

5th Chartered Management (general)

6th= Data Scientists & Analysts

6th= Retail Management (all at Morrisons)

8th= Control Engineers

8th= Civil Engineers

10th Chartered Surveyors

11th Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

12th Chemical Engineers

13th Food Technologists

14th= Building Services Design Engineers

14th= Environmental Practitioners

14th= Healthcare Scientists

14th= Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

14th= Packaging Technologists

14th= User Experience (UX) Professionals

20th= Building Control Surveyors

20th= Cyber Security Technologists

20th= Materials Scientists

20th= Supply Chain Leadership

20th= Town Planners

25th= Business to Business Sales Executive

25th= Environmental Health Practitioner

25th= Laboratory Scientist

25th= Manufacturing Engineer

25th= Marketing Management

25th= Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions has encompassed a range of specific roles including Software Engineering, Network Engineering, Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Infrastructure Engineering and BIM (Building Information Modelling).

Realistically Police Constables should also figure prominently in this table because of the “Durham factor” and the likelihood that some other police forces are or will be actively recruiting degree apprentices too.

Higher apprenticeships:

In total there have been 269 new vacancies spread across 30 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

1st Software Developers (current total = 54)

2nd Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

3rd Data Analysts

4th Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

5th= Project Management

5th= Science Laboratory Technicians

7th Accountancy or Taxation

8th Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

9th= Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

9th= Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

11th Investment Consultants

12th= Network Engineers

12th= Sales Executives

14th= Information Systems Business Analysts

14th= Software Testers

16th Insurance Professionals

17th= Cyber Security Officers

17th= Policy Officers

19th= Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

19th= Food Technologists

19th= HR/Learning & Development/Employability Practitioners

19th= Learning & Skills Teachers

19th= Financial Paraplanners

19th= Public Relations 

25th= Hospitality Management

25th=   IT Support Professional  

25th= Operations Management

25th= Quantity Surveying Technician

25th= Regulatory Compliance Officer

25th= Revenue & Benefits Officer

Entry requirements for degree apprenticeships

In terms of UCAS points, the average across all degree apprenticeship vacancies is 106 points (close to BBC or DMM), demonstrating that they are not just the preserve of academic high-flyers.

Going forward

I will continue to observe how it pans out this week and will post further updates if there are interesting developments to report.

© Alan Bullock, 29/6/2020

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