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


Since ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020, I’ve been keeping a record of all new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies posted in England on the government ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website, excluding any that I perceive as unsuitable for an 18-year-old school or college leaver. I compare the data with the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown, whilst also building up an occupational and regional analysis. The overall picture it provides has proved increasingly useful for informing guidance.

However, unsurprisingly it hasn’t been a rosy picture so far and the only new glimmer of hope in the past week was the posting of 10 Adult Nursing degree apprenticeships in Harlow, Essex. This was the first time I’ve seen a significant number of Nursing DAs advertised nationally since I started keeping records in Autumn 2018.    

Headline stats

During the latest week, from 13th to 17th July, I recorded:

  • 22 new degree apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 24 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 17 weeks prior to lockdown (25th November to 20th March) I recorded: 1,875 new degree apprenticeships  and  1,212 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 3,087 and an average of 182 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 17 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 10th July) I have recorded: 397 new degree apprenticeships and 335 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 732 and an average of 43 new vacancies each week.

This represents a 76.3% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. In other words, the number of new DAs and HAs continues to have been cut by more than three quarters and this pattern hasn’t really changed over the past few weeks. At least it isn’t getting any worse!

Updated regional analysis

By county, the 732 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised nationally in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (132)
  • Yorkshire (55)
  • Hertfordshire (46)
  • Surrey (46)
  • Essex (43)
  • Hampshire (39)
  • Greater Manchester (36)
  • West Midlands (31)
  • Gloucestershire (28)
  • Suffolk (21)
  • Berkshire (20)
  • Tyne & Wear (19)
  • Nottinghamshire (19)
  • Sussex (19)
  • Cheshire (16)
  • Lancashire (14)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Devon (12)
  • Cambridgeshire (11)
  • Warwickshire (10)
  • Bedfordshire (10)
  • Oxfordshire (9)
  • Kent (9)
  • Derbyshire (8)
  • Staffordshire (8)
  • Leicestershire (7)
  • Northamptonshire (7)
  • Somerset (7)
  • Cumbria (6)
  • Buckinghamshire (6)
  • Durham (5)
  • Shropshire (5)
  • Worcestershire (4)
  • Norfolk (3)
  • Cornwall (3)
  • Lincolnshire (2)
  • Dorset (2)
  • Herefordshire (1)
  • Wiltshire (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:

  • 148 South East (9.1)
  • 134 East of England (6.2)
  • 132 London (8.9)
  •   84 North West (7.3)
  •   59 West Midlands (5.9)
  •   55 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  •   53 South West (5.6)
  •   43 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   24 North East (2.7)

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 397 new vacancies spread across 33 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £27,665pa.  

1st Digital Technology Solutions* (current total = 97)

2nd Accountancy or Taxation

3rd Financial Services

4th Electrical/Electronic Engineers

5th  Civil Engineers

6th Data Scientists & Analysts

7th Chartered Management (general)

8th Retail Management (all with Morrisons)

9th= Chartered Surveyors

9th= Control Engineers

11th Healthcare Science Practitioners*

12th Adult Nursing

13th Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

14th Business to Business Sales Professionals

15th= Laboratory Scientists

15th= Town Planners

17th= Chemical Engineers

17th= Food Technologists

17th= Packaging Technologists

20th= Building Services Design Engineers

20th= Environmental Health Practitioners

20th= Environmental Practitioners

20th= Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

20th= User Experience (UX) Professionals

25th= Building Control Surveyors

25th= Cyber Security Technologists

25th= Materials Scientists

25th= Supply Chain Leadership

29th= Digital Marketing

29th= Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

29th= Manufacturing Engineer

29th= Marketing Management

29th= Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions has encompassed Software Engineering, Network Engineering, Data Analytics, Cyber Security, IT Business Analyst, Infrastructure Engineering, and BIM (Building Information Modelling).

*Healthcare Science Practitioners has encompassed Cardiac Physiology, Neurophysiology, Biomedical Science, Radiation Engineering, and Digital Healthcare.

Higher apprenticeships:

In total there have been 335 new vacancies spread across 33 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

1st Software Developers (current total = 68)

2nd Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

3rd Data Analysts

4th Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

5th  Project Management

6th  Accounting Technicians

7th= Network Engineers

7th= Science Laboratory Technicians

9th= Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

9th= Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

11th= Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

12th= Sales Executives

12th= Software Testers

14th Investment Consultants

15th Information Systems Business Analysts

16th= Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

16th= Cyber Security Technologists

18th Building Services Engineering Technicians

19th Insurance Professionals

20th= Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

20th= Policy Officers

22nd= Food Technologists

22nd= Hearing Aid Dispensers

22nd= Hospitality Management

22nd= HR/Learning & Development/Employability Practitioners

22nd= Learning & Skills Teachers

22nd= Public Relations 

22nd= Quantity Surveying Technicians

22nd= Regulatory Compliance Officers

30th= Civil Engineering Technician

30th= IT Support Professional  

30th= Operations Management

30th= Revenue & Benefits Officer

Going forward

I will probably post another brief update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 19/7/2020

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