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


There’s more good news this week. With bigger providers like EY, BDO, RSM, Grant Thornton, Morrisons, JP Morgan and Dyson Institute actively recruiting again, numbers are going up. The occupational and regional LMI generated by this is also becoming all the more interesting. I have had to tweak my approach slightly, but I’ve briefly explained my rationale for this below.  


Since ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020 I have kept a record of all new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies posted in England, largely but not exclusively using the government’s ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website. I exclude any vacancies that I would consider to be wholly unsuitable for an 18/19-year-old school or college leaver.  

I’ve been collating similar data since Autumn 2018, so each week I compare the post-lockdown data with the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown, whilst also building up occupational and regional analyses. It has never exactly compared like with like, so my reports are never fully representative. However, the overall picture provides the kind of LMI that I personally find immensely useful in guidance and this year I decided to openly share it.

The advantage of using the government site as my main source is that, unlike other sites, it publishes the actual number of vacancies. However, because some employers don’t post their vacancies there, I’m also now delving into other sources including the Rate My Apprenticeship and UCAS sites. In some cases I now make educated estimates about numbers when, until recently, every statistic was meticulously and accurately recorded. This makes my data less reliable, but on the other hand I took a similar approach this time last year so broadly speaking I’m still comparing like with like but just deploying some editorial licence. My data is now a little more arbitrary, but I still think the regional, occupational and overall analyses tell a very useful story. It also largely explains Wiltshire’s sudden meteoric rise from the lower reaches of the regional league table, with Dyson’s campus being located in Malmesbury.

Headline stats

During the latest week, from 28th September to 2nd October, I recorded:

  • 111 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 79 new Higher & Level 4/5 Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 28 weeks prior to lockdown (9th September 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,294 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 1,822 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 5,116 and an average of 182 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 28 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 25th September 2020) I have recorded exactly 1,000 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 1,141 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 2,141 and an average of 76 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 58.2% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. Whilst that’s still bad news, it continues to show a sustained improvement compared with the 77% figure around which it was hovering back in Spring and early-Summer.

Updated regional analysis

The 2,141 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows, with every county being represented:

  • Greater London (461)
  • Yorkshire (348)
  • Greater Manchester (104)
  • West Midlands (96)
  • Essex (75)
  • Hampshire (74)
  • Berkshire (73)
  • Gloucestershire (68)
  • Hertfordshire (61)
  • Surrey (60)
  • Wiltshire (52)
  • Tyne & Wear (49)
  • County Durham (43)
  • Nottinghamshire (43)
  • Cheshire (41)
  • Merseyside (40)
  • Suffolk (36)
  • Cambridgeshire (32)
  • Devon (32)
  • Northamptonshire (31)
  • Sussex (31)
  • Lancashire (29)
  • Leicestershire (26)
  • Staffordshire (22)
  • Norfolk (22)
  • Buckinghamshire (22)
  • Somerset (20)
  • Dorset (19)
  • Kent (18)
  • Derbyshire (17)
  • Oxfordshire (16)
  • Bedfordshire (16)
  • Warwickshire (14)
  • Shropshire (10)
  • Worcestershire (10)
  • Lincolnshire (8)
  • Cumbria (7)
  • Cornwall (4)
  • Northumberland (3)
  • Herefordshire (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.

  • 461 London (8.9)
  • 348 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 294 South East (9.1)
  • 242 East of England (6.2)
  • 221 North West (7.3)
  • 195 South West (5.6)
  • 154 West Midlands (5.9)
  • 125 East Midlands (4.8)
  •   95 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 given below. In my view, this provides a fascinating insight into what the emerging occupations are in a rapidly changing landscape.

Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships:

In total there have been exactly 1,000 new vacancies spread across 43 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £7,830 to £30,000pa.  

210 Police Constables

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

131 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

  61 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors

  48 Design & Development Engineers

  39 Chartered Management (general)

  31 Civil Engineers

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services

  28 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  25 Data Scientists & Analysts

  15 Control Engineers

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners (*see below)

  13 Logistics & Supply Chain Leaders

  13 Sales Professionals

  12 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  11 Digital Marketing Professionals

  11 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  11 Laboratory Scientists

  10 Adult Nursing 

  10 Manufacturing Management        

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    8 Food Technologists/Engineers

    6 Building Services Design Engineers

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Town Planners

    5 Chemical Engineers

    5 Clinical Trials Specialists

    5 Manufacturing Engineers

    5 Packaging Technologists

    4 Cyber Security Technologists

    4 Environmental Management Practitioners

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Creative Digital Designers   

    2 Aerospace Engineers

    2 Materials Scientists

    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, Software Consultants, Fintech, Business Analysts, Business Intelligence, Infrastructure Specialists, IT Technical Support Professionals, Software Testers, a Junior Product Manager 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 1,141 new vacancies spread across 51 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa.

151 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

144 Software Developers 

112 Sales Executives

  78 Policy Officers

  78 Project Management Associates

  70 Data Analysts

  46 Network Engineers

  42 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  39 Tax Technicians  

  27 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  27 Technician Scientists

  26 Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

  26 Cyber Security Technologists

  25 Software Testers 

  24 Business Analysts 

  22 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  18 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  17 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  15 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  14 Public Relations & Communications  

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  10 Nursing Associates (Adult)

    9 Digital Marketing Executives

    9 Investment Consultants

    7 Housing & Property Management

    6 Insurance Professionals

    6 Human Resources Practitioners

    6 Quantity Surveying Technicians

    5 Brewers

    5 Construction Site Supervisors

    5 Formula 1 Automotive Engineering Technicians

    5 Internal Auditors

    4 DevOps Engineers

    4 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    4 Junior Management Consultants

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    3 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    3 Food Technologists/Engineers

    3 Hospitality Management

    3 Operations Management

    3 Social Care Leaders

    2 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    2 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Civil Engineering Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer

    1 Retail Management

    1 Supply Chain Specialist

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

All being well, there will be a further update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 4/10/2020

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