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


There’s good news and bad news this week. The bad news is that just 9 degree apprenticeships were posted in England in Week 18, which is the second worse figure since I started keeping records in Autumn 2018. The only week that was even worse than this was the very first week of lockdown in March.

However, it was higher apprenticeships that saved Week 18 from total ignominy, with an encouraging 42 HAs distributed quite widely both occupationally and regionally. 19 different occupations were covered in the higher apprenticeship data, including 6 ‘new entrants’. Meanwhile, the regional spread stretched from Exeter in the south west to Durham in the north east and took in places like Tilbury, Gloucester, Walsall, Spondon, Wisbech and North Ferriby, plus a PR Assistant in Stafford, a Regulatory Compliance Officer in Nottingham, a Tax Technician in Bishop Auckland, a DevOps Engineer in Durham, 3 Housing Officers in Nottingham and 3 Junior Management Consultants in Chester. So, it was good to see some occupational and regional diversity.


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.

Headline stats

During the latest week, from 20th to 24th July, I recorded:

  • 9 new degree apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 42 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 18 weeks prior to lockdown (18th November to 20th March) I recorded: 2,108 new degree apprenticeships and 1,304 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 3,412 and an average of 190 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 18 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 10th July) I have recorded: 406 new degree apprenticeships and 377 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 783 and an average of 44 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 continues to have been cut by more than three quarters and this pattern has remained fairly stable in recent weeks. In fact, when I wrote the first of these blogs in May, 8 weeks after lockdown, the average number of vacancies was slightly lower (38) but the reduction was identical (77%).  

Updated regional analysis

The 783 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (139)
  • Yorkshire (56)
  • Hertfordshire (49)
  • Surrey (46)
  • Essex (45)
  • Greater Manchester (40)
  • Hampshire (40)
  • West Midlands (34)
  • Gloucestershire (30)
  • Berkshire (22)
  • Nottinghamshire (21)
  • Suffolk (21)
  • Tyne & Wear (19)
  • Cheshire (19)
  • Sussex (19)
  • Lancashire (15)
  • Devon (14)
  • Cambridgeshire (13)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Bedfordshire (12)
  • Warwickshire (11)
  • Oxfordshire (10)
  • Staffordshire (9)
  • Derbyshire (9)
  • Kent (9)
  • Leicestershire (8)
  • Somerset (8)
  • Durham (7)
  • Northamptonshire (7)
  • Buckinghamshire (7)
  • Cumbria (6)
  • Norfolk (6)
  • Shropshire (5)
  • Worcestershire (4)
  • Cornwall (3)
  • Lincolnshire (2)
  • Dorset (2)
  • Herefordshire (1)
  • Wiltshire (1)
  • + 2 for which the location was unspecified

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 as stark as it first appears:

  • 153 South East (9.1)
  • 146 East of England (6.2)
  • 139 London (8.9)
  •   92 North West (7.3)
  •   64 West Midlands (5.9)
  •   58 South West (5.6)
  •   56 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  •   47 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   26 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 406 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 = 98)

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= Chartered Surveyors

9th= Control Engineers

11th Healthcare Science Practitioners*

12th Adult Nursing

13th= Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

13th= 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 377 new vacancies spread across 39 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

1st Software Developers (current total = 77)

2nd Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

3rd Data Analysts

4th Project Management

5th Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

6th Accounting Technicians

7th= Network Engineers

7th= Science Laboratory Technicians

9th= Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

9th= Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

11th= Cyber Security Technologists

11th= Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

11th= Sales Executives

14th= Software Testers

15th= Information Systems Business Analysts

15th= Investment Consultants

17th Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

18th= Building Services Engineering Technicians

18th= Insurance Professionals

20th= Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

20th= Food Technologists/Food Engineers

20th= Housing/Property Management

20th= Junior Management Consultants

20th= Policy Officers

20th= Public Relations Assistants

20th= Regulatory Compliance Officers

27th= Hearing Aid Dispensers

27th= Hospitality Management

27th= Human Resources Specialists

27th= Learning & Skills Teachers

27th= Quantity Surveying Technicians

32nd= Civil Engineering Technician

32nd= Construction Site Supervisor

32nd= DevOps Engineer

32nd= IT Support Professional

32nd= Learning & Development Practitioner

32nd= Operations Management

32nd= Revenue & Benefits Officer

32nd= Tax Technician

Going forward

I will probably post another brief update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 26/7/2020

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