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

This week’s headlines

Week 20 brought another mixture of good news and not so good news. The good news is that the number of new Higher Apprenticeships being posted in England seems to be rising, with 148 new vacancies in the last three weeks. That’s still barely a third of the numbers posted pre-lockdown, but nonetheless it’s showing a steady improvement on what was happening a couple of months ago.

However, with Degree Apprenticeships it’s a different story. If we take away the 150 Police Constable vacancies recently posted in West Yorkshire, the total number of other new DAs in England during the last three weeks was just 19.   

I always like to look on the bright side though and last week’s highlight was a new Data Analytics higher apprenticeship in the lovely Northumberland town of Alnwick. It means that every single county in England has now seen at least one DA or HA posted since lockdown, with the exception of the Isle of Wight which arguably would come under Hampshire anyway. See below for my full weekly update of regional data.  

In addition, my new improved occupational analysis now includes the actual number of vacancies posted in each occupational area since lockdown started. I think this provides some quite powerful labour market data on what some of the ‘emerging’ careers are. Last week’s biggest riser was Regulatory Compliance Officer and I doubt that many of us get asked how you become one of those very often.


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 would perceive as inappropriate for any 18/19-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. Not all vacancies are posted on the government site, so my reports will never be fully representative, but I find that the overall picture it provides is proving increasingly helpful in guidance.

Headline stats

During the latest week, from 3rd to 7th August, I recorded:

  • 13 new degree apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 62 new higher apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 20 weeks prior to lockdown (4th November to 20th March) I recorded: 2,403 new degree apprenticeships and 1,413 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 3,816 and an average of 191 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 20 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 7th August) I have recorded: 576 new degree apprenticeships and 483 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 1,059 and an average of 53 new vacancies each week.

This represents a 72.2% 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, given that the reduction figure was hovering consistently around 77% a couple of months ago, the overall trend is at least improving rather than deteriorating.

Updated regional analysis

The 1,059 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Yorkshire (215)
  • Greater London (173)
  • Hertfordshire (50)
  • Greater Manchester (48)
  • Essex (48)
  • Surrey (47)
  • Hampshire (43)
  • West Midlands (40)
  • Gloucestershire (38)
  • Berkshire (28)
  • Cheshire (26)
  • Nottinghamshire (26)
  • Suffolk (24)
  • Tyne & Wear (21)
  • Devon (20)
  • Sussex (19)
  • Lancashire (16)
  • Cambridgeshire (14)
  • Warwickshire (13)
  • Merseyside (12)
  • Bedfordshire (12)
  • Derbyshire (10)
  • Staffordshire (10)
  • Oxfordshire (10)
  • Kent (10)
  • Somerset (10)
  • Durham (9)
  • Norfolk (9)
  • Leicestershire (9)
  • Buckinghamshire (8)
  • Northamptonshire (7)
  • Cumbria (6)
  • Shropshire (6)
  • Worcestershire (6)
  • Cornwall (4)
  • Lincolnshire (3)
  • Herefordshire (2)
  • Wiltshire (2)
  • Dorset (2)
  • Northumberland (1)
  • Not specified (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.

  • 215 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 173 London (8.9)
  • 165 South East (9.1)
  • 157 East of England (6.2)
  • 108 North West (7.3)
  •   77 West Midlands (5.9)
  •   76 South West (5.6)
  •   55 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   31 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:

Degree & Level 7 apprenticeships:

In total there have been 576 new vacancies spread across 36 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £27,665pa.  

150 Police Constables

104 Digital Technology Solutions*

  40 Accountants or Tax Specialists

  29 Financial Services

  28 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  25 Civil Engineers

  22 Data Scientists & Analysts

  20 Chartered Management (general)

  16 Retail Management (all with Morrisons)

  15 Control Engineers

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners*

  11 Sales Executives & Sales Managers

  10 Adult Nursing

  10 Chartered Quantity Surveyors

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    9 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

    5 User Experience (UX) Professionals

    3 Cyber Security Technologists

    3 Digital Marketing

    3 Environmental Health Officers

    3 Environmental Practitioners

    3 Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

    2 Building Control Surveyors

    2 Materials Scientists

    2 Supply Chain Leadership

    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 Specialists, 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 483 new vacancies spread across 45 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

95 Software Developers

35 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians

34 Data Analysts

27 Accounting Technicians

25 Project Management

24 Buying, Merchandising & Supply Chain

24 Regulatory Compliance Officers

21 Network Engineers

19 Science Laboratory Technicians

14 Cyber Security Technologists

14 Sales Executives

13 Software Testers

12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

12 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

11 Mental Health Nursing Associates

10 Adult Nursing Associates

10 Building Services Engineering Technicians

10 Information Systems Business Analysts

  9 Investment Consultants

  6 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  5 Insurance Professionals

  5 Public Relations Assistants

  4 Construction Site Supervisors

  4 Junior Management Consultants

  4 Policy Officers

  3 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

  3 Food Technologists/Food Engineers

  3 Hospitality Management

  3 Housing/Property Management

  3 Quantity Surveying Technicians

  3 Tax Technicians

  2 Hearing Aid Dispensers

  2 Human Resources Specialists

  2 Learning & Skills Teachers

  2 Marketing Executives

  1 Brewer

  1 Civil Engineering Technician

  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

© Alan Bullock, 10/8/2020

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