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

Headlines

This week I’m pleased to report a distinct upturn, although it remains to be seen whether this is another flash in the pan or the start of a recovery. The improvement on this occasion was also somewhat London-centric with, unusually, over 70% of the new vacancies in the Greater London area. In particular there was quite a big spike in South London and especially the London Borough of Croydon, including 15 Mental Health Nursing Associate vacancies with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. My regional and occupational analyses below give an overview of how things have shaped up over the 24 weeks as a whole.   

Background

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.

Each week I compare the data with the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown, whilst also building up my occupational and regional analyses. It’s not exactly comparing like with like, neither are all vacancies posted on the government site, so my reports will never be fully representative. However, the overall picture it provides continues to act as an immensely helpful guidance tool.

Headline stats

During the latest week, from 31st August to 4th September, I recorded:

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

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

  • In the 24 weeks prior to lockdown (7th October to 20th March) I recorded: 2,776 new degree apprenticeships and 1,618 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 4,394 and an average of 183 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 24 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 4th September) I have recorded: 690 new degree apprenticeships and 691 new higher apprenticeships, giving a total of 1,381 and an average of 58 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 68.5% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. The reduction remains a substantial matter for concern but, looking on the bright side, the overall trend is one of continuous gradual improvement given that this figure was hovering consistently at around 77% several weeks ago.

Updated regional analysis

The 1,381 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows, with every county being represented:

  • Greater London (301)
  • Yorkshire (235)
  • Greater Manchester (64)
  • Essex (54)
  • Hampshire (54)
  • West Midlands (53)
  • Hertfordshire (53)
  • Surrey (51)
  • Gloucestershire (47)
  • Cheshire (34)
  • Nottinghamshire (32)
  • Berkshire (31)
  • Devon (29)
  • Merseyside (28)
  • Tyne & Wear (27)
  • Suffolk (27)
  • Sussex (21)
  • Cambridgeshire (19)
  • Lancashire (17)
  • Kent (17)
  • Somerset (16)
  • Durham (14)
  • Oxfordshire (14)
  • Derbyshire (13)
  • Norfolk (13)
  • Leicestershire (13)
  • Warwickshire (13)
  • Staffordshire (12)
  • Bedfordshire (12)
  • Buckinghamshire (11)
  • Northamptonshire (9)
  • Worcestershire (8)
  • Cumbria (6)
  • Shropshire (6)
  • Lincolnshire (5)
  • Dorset (5)
  • Cornwall (4)
  • Northumberland (3)
  • Herefordshire (2)
  • Wiltshire (2)
  • Not specified (6)

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 is not quite as disproportionate as it might appear.

  • 301 London (8.9)
  • 235 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 199 South East (9.1)
  • 178 East of England (6.2)
  • 149 North West (7.3)
  • 103 South West (5.6)
  •   94 West Midlands (5.9)
  •   72 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   44 North East (2.7)
  •     6 Not specified

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 690 new vacancies spread across 42 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £27,665pa.  

150 Police Constables

120 Digital Technology Solutions (*see below for more details)

  51 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors

  46 Accountants or Tax Specialists

  29 Civil Engineers

  29 Financial Services

  28 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  27 Chartered Management (general)

  25 Data Scientists & Analysts

  16 Retail Management

  15 Control Engineers

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners (*see below)

  12 Chartered Quantity Surveyors

  12 Sales Professionals

  10 Adult Nursing      

  10 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  10 Laboratory Scientists

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    9 Digital Marketing

    6 Building Services Design Engineers

    6 Food Technologists/Engineers

    6 Town Planners

    5 Chemical Engineers

    5 Environmental Health Officers

    5 Manufacturing Engineers

    5 Packaging Technologists

    4 Cyber Security Technologists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Creative Digital Designers   

    3 Environmental Practitioners

    3 Mechanical, Product Design & Development Engineers

    2 Aerospace Engineers

    2 Building Control Surveyors

    2 Materials Scientists

    2 Supply Chain Leadership

    1 Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

    1 Marketing Management

    1 Podiatrist

    1 Project Management

    1 Solicitor

    1 Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions has encompassed Software Engineers, Software Developers, Network Engineers, Data Analysts, Cyber Security Technologists, Business Analysts, Business Intelligence, Infrastructure Specialists, IT Technical Support Professionals, Software Testers and a Building Information Modeller (BIM).

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

Higher apprenticeships:

In total there have been 691 new vacancies spread across 48 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £29,000pa.

121 Software Developers

  58 Data Analysts

  53 Accounting Technicians

  39 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  37 Sales Executives

  36 Project Management

  32 Network Engineers

  26 Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

  24 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  22 Science Laboratory Technicians

  20 Cyber Security Technologists

  20 Software Testers 

  19 Policy Officers

  18 Commercial Procurement & Supply Chain

  16 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  15 Business Analysts

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technician

  12 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  10 Nursing Associates (Adult)

  10 Building Services Engineering Technicians

    9 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

    9 Investment Consultants

    9 Public Relations & Communications

    6 Insurance Professionals

    5 Human Resources Practitioners

    4 Construction Site Supervisors

    4 DevOps Engineers

    4 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    4 Junior Management Consultants

    4 Quantity Surveying Technicians

    3 Food Technologists/Engineers

    3 Hospitality Management

    3 Housing/Property Management

    3 Tax Technicians

    2 Brewers

    2 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    2 Internal Auditors

    2 Learning & Development Practitioners

    2 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    2 Marketing Executives

    2 Social Care Leaders

    1 Civil Engineering Technician

    1 IT Support Professional

    1 Operations Management

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer

    1 Retail Management

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

As the plot thickens, look out for another update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 7/9/2020

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