29 weeks after the start of ‘lockdown’: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England are on the rise


There’s a lot more good news this week and it has led me to take a new approach to my weekly blog. Many of the bigger providers are actively promoting their 2021 programmes and the only downside is that it’s impossible to keep tabs on the precise number of vacancies, so in some cases I’m just making educated estimates.

This means that my data now includes a fair amount of editorial licence and some of the numbers are becoming somewhat arbitrary. However, the trends are still clearly apparent and the overall picture, especially the occupational and regional breakdowns, continue to be immensely helpful in guidance. My data has never exactly compared like with like, but for me the LMI it provides is worth its weight in gold. This LMI isn’t just about predicting future trends, it’s about what’s out there right now!

The bigger recruiters now advertising include the likes of EY, BDO, RSM, Grant Thornton, Morrisons, JP Morgan, Dyson Institute, Bank of England, IBM, Goldman Sachs, BP, Amex, Nestlé, MI5 and GCHQ. Not only has this made an impact on the overall data, but it’s skewing the occupational and regional data in an interesting way, giving an increasing sense of what the emerging careers are in a rapidly changing and challenging world and roughly how they’re distributed around England. I’m just sorry I can’t cover the other home countries too.    


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.

Headline stats (with some minor adjustments)

During the latest week, from 5th to 9th October, I recorded:

  • 242 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 241 new Higher & Level 4/5 Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 29 weeks prior to lockdown (2nd September 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,438 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 1,856 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 5,294 and an average of 183 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 29 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 9th October 2020) I have recorded 1,257 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 1,382 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 2,639 and an average of 91 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 50.2% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, but nonetheless there has been a sustained improvement since the Spring when the reduction was hovering around 77%.

Updated regional analysis

The 2,639 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows, with every county being represented:

  • Greater London (606)
  • Yorkshire (355)
  • Greater Manchester (167)
  • Hampshire (135)
  • West Midlands (102)
  • Gloucestershire (99)
  • Essex (77)
  • Berkshire (73)
  • Surrey (70)
  • Dorset (69)
  • Hertfordshire (61)
  • Lancashire (60)
  • County Durham (58)
  • Sussex (58)
  • Wiltshire (52)
  • Tyne & Wear (51)
  • Warwickshire (44)
  • Nottinghamshire (43)
  • Merseyside (42)
  • Cheshire (42)
  • Suffolk (36)
  • Cambridgeshire (34)
  • Devon (33)
  • Northamptonshire (31)
  • Kent (28)
  • Leicestershire (26)
  • Staffordshire (23)
  • Norfolk (23)
  • Buckinghamshire (22)
  • Somerset (20)
  • Derbyshire (17)
  • Oxfordshire (16)
  • Bedfordshire (16)
  • 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.

  • 606 London (8.9)
  • 402 South East (9.1)
  • 355 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 318 North West (7.3)
  • 279 South West (5.6)
  • 247 East of England (6.2)
  • 189 West Midlands (5.9)
  • 125 East Midlands (4.8)
  • 112 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 1,257 new vacancies spread across 45 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa.  

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

225 Police Constables

162 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

  78 Chartered Management (general)

  61 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors

  48 Design & Development Engineers

  34 Cyber Security Analysts

  31Civil Engineers

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services

  28 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  25 Data Scientists & Analysts

  15 Control Engineers

  14 Digital Marketing Professionals

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners (*see below)

  13 Logistics & Supply Chain Leaders

  13 Sales Professionals

  12 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  11 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  11 Laboratory Scientists

  10 Adult Nursing 

  10 Economists

  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 Environmental Management Practitioners

    4 Human Resources Professionals  

    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, Business Analysts, Business Intelligence, Infrastructure Specialists, IT Technical Support Professionals, Software Testers, Fintech, a Junior Product Manager, a Digital Transformation Engineer 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 1,382 new vacancies spread across 52 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa (exactly the same salary range as DAs).

191 Software Developers 

154Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

113 Sales Executives

112 Project Management Associates

  78 Policy Officers

  75 Data Analysts

  70 Investment Operations

  56 Software Testers 

  46 Network Engineers

  42 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  39 Tax Technicians  

  34 Junior Management Consultants

  33 Regulatory Compliance & Trading Standards Officers

  29 Technician Scientists

  26 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  26 Cyber Security Technologists

  26 Nursing Associates (Mental Health)

  24 Business Analysts 

  22 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  17 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  15 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  15 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

    7 Quantity Surveying Technicians

    6 Construction Site Supervisors

    6 Human Resources Practitioners

    6 Insurance Professionals

    5 Brewers

    5 Formula 1 Automotive Engineering Technicians

    5 Internal Auditors

    4 DevOps Engineers

    4 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    4Learning & Skills Teachers 

    3 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    3 Food Technologists/Engineers

    3 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    3 Hospitality Management

    3 Operations Management

    3 Social Care Leaders

    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, 11/10/2020

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