33 weeks after the start of ‘lockdown’: more good news about the impact of COVID-19 on Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England

Headline news

Contrary to my gloomy prediction last week, the latest data in my weekly report is exceptionally encouraging. The reason for this is partly because I’ve been proactively trawling my vacancy sources to check out some of the larger providers whom I’ve previously missed. However, by doing this it has been reassuring to see that most of the bigger DA and HA providers who recruit annually are now actively promoting their 2021 schemes.   


Since the first ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020, I have kept a record of all new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies posted in England. I largely use data extracted every week from the government’s ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website and I now back this up by also searching the UCAS Career Finder and Rate My Apprenticeship sites, which enables me to pick up vacancies posted by many of those larger employers who don’t use the government site. 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 my post-lockdown data with the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown, whilst also building up occupational and regional analyses.

When recording multiple vacancies posted by some of the larger employers, I do now use an element of editorial licence. Wherever possible, 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, I want to make it clear that the figures I present each week will never be fully reliable nor will they ever fully compare like with like. However, in my view, the broad trends and occupational and regional breakdowns still provide some powerful LMI that I and others continue to find immensely useful in guidance.    

Headline data

During the latest week, from 2nd to 6th November, I recorded:

  • 192 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 173 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 33 weeks prior to lockdown (5th August 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,658 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,164 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 5,822 and an average of 176 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 33 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 6th November 2020) I have recorded 1,917 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 1,864 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 3,781 and an average of 115 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 35.1% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown and, although that might sound like bad news, my regular readers will recognise this as a substantial and continuous improvement on the situation that prevailed throughout the Spring and early-Summer. The recent upswing has quite emphatically been sustained, although I will repeat my earlier caveat that I have been scouring the websites this week to ensure that I don’t miss much.

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 below this I also break it down by region.

When large employers post multiple vacancies across a range of locations, I make strenuous efforts to identify those locations. In some cases however, when big companies post nationwide vacancies with no indication whatsoever of where in England they are distributed, I have used either their head office location or, if applicable, the university city that apprentices will go to for some or all of their off-the-job studies. Some counties will therefore benefit to a limited extent from this, with Greater Manchester being the biggest beneficiary. This is another element of my ‘editorial licence’, but I don’t feel that it skews the figures too drastically.     

The 3,781 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (873)
  • Yorkshire (479)
  • Greater Manchester (268)
  • West Midlands (220)
  • Hampshire (162)
  • Gloucestershire (158)
  • Berkshire (107)
  • Tyne & Wear (94)
  • Surrey (94)
  • Essex (89)
  • Nottinghamshire (88)
  • Merseyside (83)
  • Sussex (81)
  • Hertfordshire (80)
  • Dorset (74)
  • Lancashire (69)
  • Wiltshire (66)
  • County Durham (65)
  • Cambridgeshire (58)
  • Cheshire (55)
  • Warwickshire (45)
  • Northamptonshire (45)
  • Suffolk (43)
  • Leicestershire (42)
  • Devon (42)
  • Buckinghamshire (37)
  • Kent (36)
  • Somerset (36)
  • Bedfordshire (33)
  • Norfolk (26)
  • Staffordshire (24)
  • Oxfordshire (22)
  • Derbyshire (20)
  • 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 are not as disproportionate as they might appear.

  • 873 London (8.9)
  • 539 South East (9.1)
  • 492 North West (7.3)
  • 479 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  • 380 South West (5.6)
  • 329 East of England (6.2)
  • 314 West Midlands (5.9)
  • 207 East Midlands (4.8)
  • 162 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 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 1,917 new vacancies spread across 56 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

345 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for more details

325 Police Constables

290 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

131 Chartered Management (general)

  85 Software Engineers

  66 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors

  55 Design & Development Engineers

  49 Civil Engineers

  48 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  44 Data Scientists & Analysts

  39 Logistics & Supply Chain Professionals

  36 Cyber Security Analysts

  31 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services 

   26 Project Management

   25 Construction Management

   20 Aerospace Engineers

   20 Food Technologists/Engineers

   18 Digital Marketing Professionals

   17 Control Engineers

   17 Manufacturing/Production Management        

   16 Manufacturing Engineers

   14 Sales Professionals

   12 Laboratory Scientists

   11 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

   10 Adult Nursing 

   10 Economists

     9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

     6 Building Services Design Engineers

     6 Cardiac Physiologists

     6 Environmental Health Officers

     6 Town Planners

     5 Chemical Engineers

     5 Clinical Trials Specialists

     5 Environmental Management Practitioners

     5 Human Resources Professionals  

     5 Nuclear Engineers

     5 Packaging Technologists

     4 Automotive Engineers

     4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

     3 Building Control Surveyors

     3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

     3 Creative Digital Designers   

     3 Marketing Management

     2 Materials Scientists     

     2 Neurophysiologists

     2 Tax Technologists

     1 Digital Healthcare Specialist

     1 Geospatial Mapping Surveyor

     1 Midwife

     1 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Specialist

     1 Podiatrist

     1 Radiation Engineer (Healthcare)

     1 Solicitor

     1 Visual Merchandiser

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

Software Engineering, Software Development, Network Engineering, Data Science, Data Analytics, Data Architecture & Integration, Cyber & Information Security, Software Consultancy, Solution Engineering & Development, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Technology Operations & Service Delivery, Infrastructure Specialists, IT Technical Support, Software Testing, Junior Product Management, Digital Transformation Engineering, and Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 1,864 new vacancies spread across 57 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: 

250 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

217 Software Developers 

138 Project Management Associates

130 Sales Executives

105 Data Analysts

  99 Tax Technicians  

  78 Policy Officers

  70 Investment Operations

  68 Nursing Associates

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  56 Software Testers 

  50 Network Engineers

  46 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  42 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  36 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  34 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  29 Technician Scientists

  28 Commercial Buyers & Supply Chain Specialists

  28 Quantity Surveying Technicians

  26 Business Analysts 

  26 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  22 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  21 Public Relations Assistants  

  15 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  13 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Human Resources Practitioners

  10 Digital Marketing Executives

    9 Investment Consultants

    7 Housing & Property Management

    7 Mineral Products Technicians

    7 Retail Management

    6 Automotive Engineering Technicians

    6 Brewers

    6 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    6 Insurance Professionals

    6 Operations Management   

    5 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    5 Hospitality Management

    5 Internal Auditors

    4 DevOps Engineers

    4 Food Technologists

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Social Care Leaders

    3 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    3 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    3 Marketing Executives

    2 Nuclear Technicians

    2 Paralegals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Quality Practitioner

    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, 10/11/2020

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