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

Headline news

Once again there was plenty of activity on the higher and degree apprenticeship front last week with a good spread of new vacancies across a range of occupations and regions. They included some initial listings by BAE Systems covering multiple occupations and sites, which amongst other things was a shot in the arm for Cumbria and the Isle of Wight. At this stage I’ve made conservative estimates of BAE’s actual numbers, which might be upwardly adjusted at a later date.

Other highlights included 10 new Solicitor apprenticeships in Liverpool, with minimum entry requirements of 136 UCAS points, BPP as the degree provider and a starting salary of £17,000. (This prompted my choice of this week’s image, which I took myself on my last visit to Liverpool after speaking at a conference at Edge Hill Uni in 2016.)   


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, while also keeping an eye on other national vacancy sources. However, 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 use an element of editorial licence. Usually I record precise information on numbers and locations, but in a few cases I’ve made educated, conservative estimates based on data and patterns I’ve noted in previous years. Therefore, the figures I present each week will never be fully reliable nor will they ever fully compare like with like. However, as the picture develops week on week, the broad trends and occupational and regional breakdowns provide some powerful LMI that can be immensely useful in guidance.

Headline data

During the latest week, from 16th to 27th November, I recorded:

  • 137 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 106 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 36 weeks prior to lockdown (15th July 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,867 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,351 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 6,218 and an average of 173 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 36 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 27th November 2020) I have recorded 2,404 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,082 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 4,486 and an average of 125 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 27.9% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, which continues to be a dramatic improvement on the rather dire situation that prevailed during the spring and summer.    

Updated regional analysis

My evolving regional data is broken down by county and region and every county in England is represented. When large employers post multiple vacancies across a range of locations, I make strenuous efforts to identify those locations. In a small number of cases however, when big companies have posted nationwide vacancies with no indication of where in England they’re 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. This is another element of my ‘editorial licence’, but it only marginally skews the overall figures.     

The 4,486 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,098)
  • Yorkshire (520)
  • West Midlands (357)
  • Greater Manchester (285)
  • Hampshire (194)
  • Gloucestershire (193)
  • Berkshire (124)
  • Surrey (113)
  • Tyne & Wear (105)
  • Merseyside (99)
  • Nottinghamshire (94)
  • Essex (93)
  • Lancashire (89)
  • Hertfordshire (86)
  • Sussex (82)
  • Dorset (81)
  • Wiltshire (68)
  • Cambridgeshire (66)
  • County Durham (65)
  • Cheshire (62)
  • Cumbria (52)
  • Northamptonshire (48)
  • Somerset (47)
  • Warwickshire (46)
  • Suffolk (44)
  • Kent (44)
  • Devon (44)
  • Leicestershire (43)
  • Bedfordshire (42)
  • Buckinghamshire (40)
  • Norfolk (30)
  • Staffordshire (25)
  • Derbyshire (23)
  • Oxfordshire (23)
  • Shropshire (13)
  • Worcestershire (13)
  • Lincolnshire (12)
  • Isle of Wight (8)
  • 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 differences in apprenticeship numbers are not as disproportionate as they might appear.

  • 1,098 London (8.9)
  •    628 South East (9.1)
  •    587 North West (7.3)
  •    520 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  •    456 West Midlands (5.9)
  •    437 South West (5.6)
  •    361 East of England (6.2)
  •    220 East Midlands (4.8)
  •    173 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 2,404 new vacancies spread across 62 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

484 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

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

325 Police Constables

132 Chartered Management (general)

121 Software Engineers

  78 Design, Development & Mechanical Engineers

  74 Civil Engineers

  74 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  68 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  65 Data Scientists & Analysts

  65 Project Management

  40 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  39 Cyber Security Specialists

  39 Logistics & Supply Chain Professionals

  33 Construction Management

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services Professionals

  25 Control Engineers

  25 Digital Marketing Professionals

  25 Manufacturing & Production Management        

  24 Aerospace Engineers

  20 Food Technologists/Engineers

  18 Manufacturing Engineers

  18 Sales Professionals

  14 Nuclear Engineers

  13 Building Services Design Engineers

  12 Economists

  12 Laboratory Scientists

  12 Railway Engineers

  11 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  11 Solicitors

  10 Adult Nursing 

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    8 Clinical Trials Specialists

    8 Environmental Practitioners

    8 Town Planners

    6 Cardiac Physiologists

    6 Creative Digital Designers   

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    5 Chemical Engineers

    5 Human Resources Professionals  

    5 Packaging Technologists

    4 Automotive Engineers

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Materials Scientists/Technologists     

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Marketing Management

    2 Geospatial Mapping/Planning/Surveying

    2 Internal Auditors

    2 Neurophysiologists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Chartered Legal Executive   

    1 Digital Healthcare Specialist

    1 Digital Transformation Engineer

    1 Midwife

    1 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Specialist

    1 Podiatrist

    1 Radiation Engineer (Healthcare)

    1 Transport Planner

    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 and Junior Product Management.

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 2,082 new vacancies spread across 60 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: 

266 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

242 Software Developers 

152 Project Management Associates

137 Sales Executives

123 Data Analysts

101 Tax Technicians  

  98 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  78 Policy Officers

  70 Investment Operations

  69 Nursing Associates

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  58 Software Testers 

  52 Network Engineers

  47 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  41 Commercial Procurement & Supply Specialists

  39 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  36 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  33 Quantity Surveying Technicians

  31 Business Analysts 

  30 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  30 Technician Scientists

  25 Public Relations Assistants  

  23 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  22 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  19 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  15 Human Resources Practitioners

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Digital Marketing Executives

    9 Investment Consultants

    7 Brewers

    7 Housing & Property Management

    7 Internal Auditors

    7 Mineral Products Technicians

    7 Retail Management

    6 Automation & Control Engineers

    6 Automotive Engineering Technicians

    6 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    6 Insurance Professionals

    6 Operations Management   

    5 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    5 Hospitality Management

    5 Logistics & Supply Chain Specialists

    5 Marketing Executives

    4 DevOps Engineers

    4 Food Technologists

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Social Care Leaders

    3 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    3 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    2 Nuclear Technicians

    2 Paralegals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Quality Practitioner

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    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, 29/11/2020

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