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


Week 19 was another one of highs and lows. The highlight was the posting of 150 Police Constable degree apprenticeships (PCDAs) by West Yorkshire Police. Clearly, these will not all be snapped up by school or college leavers, but 18-year-olds would nonetheless be eligible to apply. The week also saw 44 new higher apprenticeship vacancies, including 10 more Nursing Associates.

However, apart from the PCDAs, only 7 other degree apprenticeship vacancies were posted nationally in the whole of England and I even gave one of those the benefit of the doubt in terms of it being suitable for a school/college leaver. So, had it not been for the PCDAs in West Yorkshire, it would otherwise have been one of the worst weeks for degree apprenticeships since their introduction, if not the worst. That said, it was good to hear about the first Podiatry degree apprenticeship I’ve ever seen. There will always be a need to treat feet.


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 27th to 31st July, I recorded:

  • 157 new degree apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 44 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 19 weeks prior to lockdown (11th November to 20th March) I recorded: 2,230 new degree apprenticeships and 1,358 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 3,588 and an average of 189 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 19 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 31st July) I have recorded: 563 new degree apprenticeships and 421 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 984 and an average of 52 new vacancies each week.

This represents a 72.6% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. In other words, the number of new DAs and HAs has been cut by almost three quarters. However, this is an improvement on previous weeks when the reduction figure had hovered consistently around 77%.

Updated regional analysis

The 984 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows. Obviously, there is now a Yorkshire spike because of last week’s PCDA vacancies, although Yorkshire was already second only to Greater London. However, I do feel a certain sympathy for County Durham! Their police force also had a PCDA recruitment recently, but details and precise numbers were not shared nationally (to the best of my knowledge) so I was unable to include them in my tabulations.

  • Yorkshire (206)
  • Greater London (164)
  • Hertfordshire (50)
  • Essex (47)
  • Surrey (46)
  • Greater Manchester (41)
  • Hampshire (41)
  • West Midlands (35)
  • Gloucestershire (34)
  • Berkshire (25)
  • Nottinghamshire (23)
  • Cheshire (21)
  • Suffolk (21)
  • Tyne & Wear (20)
  • Sussex (19)
  • Devon (16)
  • Lancashire (15)
  • Cambridgeshire (13)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Bedfordshire (12)
  • Warwickshire (11)
  • Derbyshire (10)
  • Oxfordshire (10)
  • Durham (9)
  • Staffordshire (9)
  • Kent (9)
  • Somerset (9)
  • Leicestershire (8)
  • Norfolk (7)
  • Northamptonshire (7)
  • Buckinghamshire (7)
  • Cumbria (6)
  • Shropshire (5)
  • Worcestershire (4)
  • Cornwall (3)
  • Lincolnshire (2)
  • Herefordshire (2)
  • Dorset (2)
  • Wiltshire (1)
  • TBA (2)

This is how those stats add up regionally. In brackets I’ve added the total population of each region in millions, which gives a sense of proportion to the apprenticeship figures. For example, in population terms the North East is by far the smallest region, so the divergence in apprenticeship numbers isn’t as stark as it first appears. The North East also gets a slightly raw deal because of the Durham Police figures not being eligible for inclusion.

  • 206 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 164 London (8.9)
  • 157 South East (9.1)
  • 150 East of England (6.2)
  •   95 North West (7.3)
  •   66 West Midlands (5.9)
  •   65 South West (5.6)
  •   50 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   29 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.

As a special service to my readers, this week I’m publishing the actual figures, rather than just presenting them in a league table format.

Degree & Level 7 apprenticeships:

In total there have been 563 new vacancies spread across 36 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £27,665pa.  

150 Police Constables

  99 Digital Technology Solutions*

  40 Accountants or Tax Specialists

  29 Financial Services

  28 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  25 Civil Engineers

  22 Data Scientists & Analysts

  20 General Chartered Management

  16 Retail Management (all with Morrisons)

  15 Control Engineers

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners*

  11 Sales Executives & Sales Managers

  10 Adult Nursing

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    9 Chartered Quantity Surveyors

    7 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors 

    6 Laboratory Scientists

    6 Town Planners

    6 Building Services Design Engineers

    5 Chemical Engineers

    5 Food Technologists

    5 Packaging Technologists

    3 Environmental Health Officers

    3 Environmental Practitioners

    3 Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

    3 User Experience (UX) Professionals

    2 Building Control Surveyors

    2 Cyber Security Technologists

    2 Materials Scientists

    2 Supply Chain Leadership

    1 Digital Marketing

    1 Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

    1 Manufacturing Engineer

    1 Marketing Management

    1 Podiatrist

    1 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 421 new vacancies spread across 45 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

85 Software Developers

35 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

28 Data Analysts

24 Project Management

23 Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

21 Accounting Technicians

19 Network Engineers

19 Science Laboratory Technicians

14 Sales Executives

12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

12 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

11 Cyber Security Technologists

11 Mental Health Nursing Associates

11 Software Testers

10 Adult Nursing Associates

10 Information Systems Business Analysts

  9 Investment Consultants

  6 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  5 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  5 Insurance Professionals

  5 Public Relations Assistants

  4 Junior Management Consultants

  3 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

  3 Food Technologists/Food Engineers

  3 Hospitality Management

  3 Housing/Property Management

  3 Policy Officers

  3 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  3 Tax Technicians

  2 Hearing Aid Dispensers

  2 Human Resources Specialists

  2 Learning & Skills Teachers

  2 Marketing Executives

  2 Quantity Surveying Technicians

  1 Brewer

  1 Civil Engineering Technician

  1 Construction Site Supervisor

  1 DevOps Engineer

  1 Internal Auditor

  1 IT Support Professional

  1 Learning & Development Practitioner

  1 Operations Management

  1 Passenger Transport Management

  1 Revenue & Benefits Officer

  1 Retail Management

Going forward

I intend to post another brief update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 2/8/2020

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