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


Week 16 saw a marginal upturn. It remains to be seen whether this is a watershed moment or just another false dawn, but there does seem to be a gradual upward trend.   

Each week I’ve been comparing the number of new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies in England posted since the day ‘lockdown’ started on 23rd March 2020 with the numbers for the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown, whilst also building up an occupational and regional analysis. The data is generally sourced from vacancies advertised nationally on the government ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website, excluding any vacancies that I perceive as unsuitable for an 18-year-old school or college leaver. The stats provide a sketch rather than a valid set of data. However, as each week passes, I find that they become increasingly useful in guidance.

During the latest week, from 6th to 10th July, I recorded:

  • 34 new degree apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 27 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

The overall comparison pre- and post-lockdown now looks like this:

  • In the 16 weeks immediately prior to ‘lockdown’ (2nd December to 20th March) I recorded: 1,766 new degree apprenticeships and 1,148 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 2,914 and an average of 182 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 16 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 10th July) I have recorded: 375 new degree apprenticeships and 311 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 686 and an average of 43 new vacancies each week.

This represents a 76.5% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. It still means that the number of new DAs and HAs has been slashed by more than three quarters, but it’s a marginal improvement on last week.

Updated regional analysis

Another positive sign is that the 686 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed widely across most of England. The precise figures are as follows. They include a slight tweak whereby I’m now using ‘ceremonial counties’ as the descriptor, except for Greater London, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Merseyside and Tyne & Wear:

  • Greater London (131)
  • Yorkshire (50)
  • Hertfordshire (46)
  • Surrey (45)
  • Greater Manchester (36)
  • Hampshire (36)
  • Essex (33)
  • West Midlands (27)
  • Gloucestershire (26)
  • Suffolk (20)
  • Tyne & Wear (19)
  • Nottinghamshire (19)
  • Sussex (18)
  • Berkshire (17)
  • Cheshire (16)
  • Lancashire (14)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Devon (12)
  • Bedfordshire (10)
  • Warwickshire (9)
  • Cambridgeshire (9)
  • Oxfordshire (9)
  • Kent (9)
  • Derbyshire (7)
  • Leicestershire (7)
  • Somerset (7)
  • Cumbria (5)
  • Durham* (5)
  • Shropshire (5)
  • Staffordshire (5)
  • Worcestershire (4)
  • Buckinghamshire (4)
  • Norfolk (3)
  • Northamptonshire (3)
  • Cornwall (3)
  • Lincolnshire (2)
  • Herefordshire (1)
  • Wiltshire (1)
  • Dorset (1)

This is how those stats add up in regional terms. In brackets I’ve added the total population of each region in millions, which puts the apprenticeship figures into a little more perspective. For example, although the South East is top and the North East is bottom, in population terms they’re also the largest and smallest regions respectively, so the divergence isn’t quite as stark as it first appears:

  • 138 South East (9.1)
  • 131 London (8.9)
  • 121 East of England (6.2)
  •   83 North West (7.3)
  •   51 West Midlands (5.9)
  •   50 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  •   50 South West (5.6)
  •   38 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   24 North East* (2.7)

I continue to asterisk Durham and the North East because of Durham Constabulary’s Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, which wasn’t advertised nationally nor was the precise number of vacancies notified, but it 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. 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 375 new vacancies spread across 32 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £27,665pa.  

1st Digital Technology Solutions* (current total = 92)

2nd Accountancy or Taxation

3rd Financial Services

4th Electrical/Electronic Engineers

5th= Civil Engineers

5th= Data Scientists & Analysts

7th Chartered Management (general)

8th Retail Management (all with Morrisons)

9th= Chartered Surveyors

9th= Control Engineers

11th Healthcare Scientists

12th Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

13th Business to Business Sales Professionals

14th Laboratory Scientists

15th= Chemical Engineers

15th= Food Technologists

15th= Packaging Technologists

15th= Town Planners

19th= Building Services Design Engineers

19th= Environmental Health Practitioners

19th= Environmental Practitioners

19th= Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

19th= User Experience (UX) Professionals

24th= Building Control Surveyors

24th= Cyber Security Technologists

24th= Materials Scientists

24th= Supply Chain Leadership

28th= Digital Marketing

28th= Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

28th= Manufacturing Engineer

28th= Marketing Management

28th= 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).

Normally Police Constables would also 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. However, to the best of my knowledge none have advertised their schemes outside the immediate local area.

Higher apprenticeships:

In total there have been 311 new vacancies spread across 31 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

1st Software Developers (current total = 64)

2nd Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

3rd Data Analysts

4th Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

5th= Accounting Technicians

5th= Project Management

7th Science Laboratory Technicians

8th= Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

8th= Network Engineers

10th= Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

10th= Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

12th Software Testers

13th= Investment Consultants

13th= Sales Executives

15th Information Systems Business Analysts

16th Cyber Security Technologists

17th Insurance Professionals

18th= Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

18th= Policy Officers

20th= Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

20th= Food Technologists

20th= Hospitality Management

20th= HR/Learning & Development/Employability Practitioners

20th= Learning & Skills Teachers

20th= Public Relations 

20th= Quantity Surveying Technicians

20th= Regulatory Compliance Officers

28th= Civil Engineering Technician

28th= IT Support Professional  

28th= Operations Management

28th= Revenue & Benefits Officer

Going forward

I intend to post at least one more Monday update this month.

© Alan Bullock, 13/7/2020

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