15 weeks after the start of ‘lockdown’: latest update on the impact of COVID-19 on Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England


Here’s my latest summary of the impact COVID-19 has had on the volume of new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies in England, including occupational and regional analyses.   

My objective has been to compare the number of new vacancies posted since ‘lockdown’ started on 23rd March 2020 with the numbers for the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown. The data is generally although not exclusively sourced from vacancies advertised nationally on the government ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website, excluding any vacancies that I perceive as not being appropriate for an 18-year-old school or college leaver. The stats provide a sketch rather than a fully valid set of data, but I continue to find them very useful in guidance and some of my clients have reinforced this.


I’m afraid the situation has got marginally worse again this week, but this is mainly because I carried out a thorough re-count of my pre-lockdown figures which revealed that I had indeed previously undercounted the number of pre-lockdown degree apprenticeships. I have checked and double-checked the revised figures and they are now as follows:        

During the latest week, from 29th June to 3rd July, I recorded:

  • 23 new degree apprenticeship vacancies
  • 15 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

Following my re-count, the overall comparison pre- and post-lockdown now looks like this:

  • In the 15 weeks immediately prior to ‘lockdown’ (9th December to 20th March) I recorded: 1,721 new degree apprenticeships and 1,011 new higher apprenticeships giving a total of 2,732 and an average of 182 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 15 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 3rd July) I have recorded: 341 new degree apprenticeships and 284 new higher apprenticeships giving a total of 625 and an average of 42 new vacancies each week.

This represents a 77.1% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. In other words, the number of new DAs and HAs has been slashed by more than three quarters. However, when taking my past miscalculations into account, at least it’s holding reasonably steady and not going into further decline. The end of last week also saw a little flutter of new degree apprenticeships and I live in hope that a small upswing might happen soon.     

Updated regional analysis

The 625 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (110)
  • Yorkshire (48)
  • Hertfordshire (46)
  • Surrey (44)
  • Hampshire (34)
  • Essex (33)
  • Greater Manchester (32)
  • West Midlands (24)
  • Suffolk (20)
  • Tyne & Wear (17)
  • Nottinghamshire (17)
  • Berkshire (16)
  • Lancashire (14)
  • Cheshire (13)
  • Bristol (13)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Sussex (12)
  • Devon (12)
  • Bedfordshire (10)
  • Oxfordshire (9)
  • Gloucestershire (9)
  • Kent (9)
  • Derbyshire (7)
  • Leicestershire (7)
  • Warwickshire (7)
  • Cambridgeshire (6)
  • Cumbria (5)
  • Durham* (5)
  • Staffordshire (5)
  • Somerset (5)
  • Shropshire (4)
  • Norfolk (3)
  • Northamptonshire (3)
  • Worcestershire (3)
  • Buckinghamshire (3)
  • Cornwall (3)
  • Lincolnshire (2)
  • Herefordshire (1)
  • Wiltshire (1)
  • Dorset (1)
  • Northumberland (0)
  • Isle of Wight (0)

Northumberland and the Isle of Wight remain the only areas yet to record a vacancy.

This is how those stats add up in regional terms. In brackets I have added the total population of each region, in millions. This puts the apprenticeship figures into some kind of perspective as, for example, the population of the South East is 9.1 million compared with the North East’s 2.7 million, so the disparity in the number of vacancies is not quite as wide as it might appear:

  • 127 South East (9.1)
  • 118 East of England (6.2)
  • 110 London (8.9)
  • 76 North West (7.3)
  • 48 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 44 South West (5.6)
  • 44 West Midlands (5.9)
  • 36 East Midlands (4.8)
  • 22 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 analysis

Each week I update my occupational analysis by breaking down the new vacancies into what I loosely term ‘occupational areas’, which in some cases differ slightly from the official apprenticeship standards terminology.

Together I think the two lists provide an increasingly useful insight into the kinds of professional jobs that are prominent and emerging. ‘Digital’ remains dominant but it’s interesting to see what else is creeping in. For example, in terms of emerging occupations the Degree Apprenticeship figures so far include 6 Healthcare Scientists, 5 Town Planners, 5 Food Technologists, 4 Packaging Technologists, 3 Environmental Practitioners, 3 Environmental Health Practitioners (the first I’ve ever seen since my records first started in October 2018), 3 UX Professionals and a Geospatial Surveyor.  

Since lockdown, the complete lists of occupational areas represented in each category are now as follows. They are listed in league table format:

Degree & Level 7 apprenticeships:

In total there have been 341 new vacancies spread across 31 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £25,833pa.  

1st Digital Technology Solutions* (current total = 80)

2nd Accountancy or Taxation

3rd Financial Services

4th Electrical/Electronic Engineers

5th Civil Engineers

6th= Chartered Management (general)

6th= Data Scientists & Analysts

8th Retail Management (all with Morrisons)

9th= Control Engineers

10th Chartered Surveyors

11th Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

12th Healthcare Scientists

13th= Chemical Engineers

13th= Food Technologists

13th= Town Planners

16th Packaging Technologists

17th= Building Services Design Engineers

17th= Environmental Health Practitioners

17th= Environmental Practitioners

17th= Laboratory Scientists

17th= Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

17th= User Experience (UX) Professionals

23rd= Building Control Surveyors

23rd= Cyber Security Technologists

23rd= Materials Scientists

23rd= Supply Chain Leadership

27th= Business to Business Sales Executive

27th= Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

27th= Manufacturing Engineer

27th= Marketing Management

27th= 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 probably figure prominently in this table because of the “Durham factor” and the likelihood that some other police forces have or will be actively recruiting degree apprentices too.

Higher apprenticeships:

In total there have been 284 new vacancies spread across 30 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

1st Software Developers (current total = 58)

2nd Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

3rd Data Analysts

4th Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

5th Project Management

6th Science Laboratory Technicians

7th Accountancy or Taxation

8th Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

9th= Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

9th= Network Engineers

9th= Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

12th= Investment Consultants

12th= Sales Executives

14th= Information Systems Business Analysts

14th= Software Testers

16th Insurance Professionals

17th= Cyber Security Technologists

17th= Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

17th= Policy Officers

20th= Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

20th= Food Technologists

20th= HR/Learning & Development/Employability Practitioners

20th= Learning & Skills Teachers

20th= Public Relations 

25th= Hospitality Management

25th= IT Support Professional  

25th= Operations Management

25th= Quantity Surveying Technician

25th= Regulatory Compliance Officer

25th= Revenue & Benefits Officer

Going forward

I intend to post further weekly updates throughout July for anyone who’s interested.

© Alan Bullock, 6/7/2020

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