31 weeks after the start of ‘lockdown’: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England continue to bounce back

Headline news

The positive trend continued in Week 31. The downturn in new DA and HA vacancies that was close to 80% in early-Spring has now been reduced to just under 43%. That said, there are a few inconsistencies in the way I collect my data, which I have briefly explained below.

One of the interesting sidelines in collecting and researching this data is the opportunity to observe not only what the emerging occupations are but also what employers are actually looking for these days. For example, one new vacancy this week is ideally seeking applicants with fluency in a foreign language and a knowledge of ice cream.  


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 wholly unsuitable for an 18/19-year-old school or college leaver.

I’ve been compiling 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.

When recording multiple vacances posted by some of the larger employers, I do now use an element of editorial licence. In most cases I record precise information on numbers and locations, but in some cases I have to make educated estimates based on data and patterns I have noted in previous years. Therefore, the figures I present each week will never be 100% accurate nor will they be completely comparing like with like. However, the broad trends and occupational and regional breakdowns still provide some powerful LMI that I find immensely useful in guidance. And I know some colleagues do too.   

This week’s continuing upturn also happened despite having to make a slight downward adjustment to my previous post-lockdown figures after I spotted an excess in my previous calculations of 20 Digital Technology Solutions vacancies in Greater London. On the other hand, I’m counting some opportunities this year that are now being referred to as degree apprenticeships when previously they weren’t. I’m also making more use of the UCAS listings in order to include a few of the bigger employers whose vacancies don’t appear on the government website. When doing so, I make conservative estimates of vacancy numbers where necessary.

Headline data

During the latest week, from 19th to 23rd October, I recorded:

  • 109 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 72 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 31 weeks prior to lockdown (19th August 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,548 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,010 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 5,558 and an average of 179 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 31 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 23rd October 2020) I have recorded 1,620 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 1,560 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 3,180 and an average of 103 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 42.8% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown. However, this figure reflects a continuous improvement compared with the situation that prevailed throughout the summer and the recent upswing has been sustained.

Updated regional analysis

I find the evolving regional breakdown both useful and fascinating. The data is broken down by county, with every county in England represented, and also by region. The figures for the different segments of Yorkshire and also for East/West Sussex are combined together and Gloucestershire includes all Bristol vacancies north of the River Avon, which is why it might appear to be punching slightly above its weight.

The 3,180 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (772)
  • Yorkshire (419)
  • Greater Manchester (185)
  • West Midlands (166)
  • Hampshire (148)
  • Gloucestershire (116)
  • Essex (85)
  • Merseyside (77)
  • Berkshire (77)
  • Surrey (73)
  • Dorset (70)
  • Lancashire (69)
  • Hertfordshire (68)
  • Wiltshire (66)
  • Sussex (63)
  • County Durham (61)
  • Tyne & Wear (58)
  • Nottinghamshire (55)
  • Cambridgeshire (50)
  • Cheshire (45)
  • Warwickshire (45)
  • Northamptonshire (44)
  • Suffolk (38)
  • Devon (38)
  • Kent (35)
  • Somerset (30)
  • Buckinghamshire (29)
  • Leicestershire (26)
  • Norfolk (24)
  • Staffordshire (23)
  • Oxfordshire (20)
  • Bedfordshire (20)
  • Derbyshire (18)
  • Cumbria (17)
  • Lincolnshire (12)
  • Worcestershire (12)
  • Shropshire (11)
  • Cornwall (4)
  • Northumberland (3)
  • Herefordshire (2)
  • Isle of Wight (0)
  • 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 differences in apprenticeship numbers is not as disproportionate as it might appear.

  • 772 London (8.9)
  • 445 South East (9.1)
  • 419 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 393 North West (7.3)
  • 324 South West (5.6)
  • 285 East of England (6.2)
  • 259 West Midlands (5.9)
  • 155 East Midlands (4.8)
  • 122 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 changing landscape.

Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 1,620 new vacancies spread across 49 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

386 Digital Technology Solutions (general) (*see below for details)

325 Police Constables

169 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

  89 Chartered Management (general)

  65 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors

  55 Design & Development Engineers

  47 Civil Engineers

  41 Data Scientists & Analysts

  34 Cyber Security Analysts

  32 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services 

  25 Construction Management

  24 Project Management

  22 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  19 Logistics & Supply Chain Leaders

  18 Digital Marketing Professionals

  17 Manufacturing Management        

  15 Control Engineers

  14 Healthcare Science Practitioners (*see below for details)

  14 Sales Professionals

  12 Aerospace Engineers

  12 Laboratory Scientists

  11 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  10 Adult Nursing 

  10 Economists

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    9 Food Technologists/Engineers

    9 Manufacturing Engineers

    6 Building Services Design Engineers

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Town Planners

    5 Chemical Engineers

    5 Clinical Trials Specialists

    5 Environmental Management Practitioners

    5 Human Resources Professionals  

    5 Packaging Technologists

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Creative Digital Designers   

    3 Marketing Management

    3 Nuclear Engineers

    2 Automotive Engineers

    2 Materials Scientists

    1 Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

    1 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives

    1 Podiatrist

    1 Solicitor

    1 Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions has encompassed the following specialisms and in many cases apprentices are able to sample multiple areas:

  • Software Engineering (which is by far the most prominent), Software Developers, Network Engineers, Data Analysts, Cyber Security Technologists, Software Consultants, Business Analysts, Business Intelligence, Infrastructure Specialists, IT Technical Support Professionals, Software Testers, Fintech, Junior Product Manager, Digital Transformation Engineer, Building Information Modeller (BIM).

*Healthcare Science Practitioners has encompassed the following specialisms:

  • Cardiac Physiology, Neurophysiology, Biomedical Science, Radiation Engineering, Digital Healthcare.

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 1,560 new vacancies spread across 54 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa (the same salary range as DAs). The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

209 Software Developers 

178 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

124 Sales Executives

116 Project Management Associates

  94 Data Analysts

  78 Policy Officers

  70 Investment Operations

  68 Nursing Associates

  65 Tax Technicians  

  56 Software Testers 

  47 Network Engineers

  46 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  34 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Regulatory Compliance & Trading Standards Officers

  29 Cyber Security Technologists

  29 Technician Scientists

  28 Commercial Buyers & Supply Chain Specialists

  24 Business Analysts 

  23 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  22 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  19 Public Relations Assistants  

  15 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Building Services Engineering Technicians

    9 Digital Marketing Executives

    9 Investment Consultants

    8 Quantity Surveying Technicians

    7 Construction Site Technicians

    7 Housing & Property Management

    7 Human Resources Practitioners

    7 Retail Management

    6 Brewers

    6 Insurance Professionals

    6 Operations Managers   

    5 Formula One Automotive Engineering Technicians

    5 Internal Auditors

    4 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    4 DevOps Engineers

    4 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    4 Food Technologists

    4 Hospitality Management

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Social Care Leaders

    3 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    3 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    2 Marketing Executives

    2 Nuclear Technicians

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Civil Engineering Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer    

    1 School Business Professional

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

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

© Alan Bullock, 25/10/2020

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